Congress Passes Resolution
Protecting Arctic Fisheries
May 22, 2008
Wednesday, Congress passed
Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Senator Lisa Murkowski's (R-Alaska)
joint resolution (S.J. Res 17) directing the United States to
negotiate an international agreement for managing fish stocks
in the Arctic Ocean. The measure now heads to the President for
"Alaska has set the gold standard in ensuring robust fish
stocks for commercial, recreational, and subsistence purposes,"
said Senator Stevens. "Science-based management has kept
fisheries a cornerstone of our economy and preserved an important
piece of Alaska Native culture. Global climate change is opening
up the Arctic and we must act to protect its fisheries. After
the President signs this resolution I will work with the State
Department to bring this issue to the United Nations."
"Conserving our fish stocks requires action both domestically
and internationally," said Senator Murkowski. "The
North Pacific Fisheries Management Council is taking action to
develop a fisheries management plan for the Chukchi and Beauford
Seas. Congress must now ensure that steps are taken to create
an international framework for the management of fisheries in
Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) helped speed the bill through
the House of Representatives under the suspension of the rules.
"Alaskan fishermen have worked both at home in our own
waters, through the North Pacific Fishery Management Council,
and in international regional fishery organizations to make sure
that North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea fisheries are sustainably
managed and that management is based on sound science,"
said Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska). "This resolution
makes it clear that the United States wants this track record
of sound management to continue into new areas of the Arctic
Ocean if they become open to fishing. I commend Senator Stevens
for taking the lead on this resolution and I hope the State Department
will work with us to ensure that Arctic fisheries are well managed
through an appropriate international agreement."
Currently, commercial fishing in the Arctic Ocean has been limited
by the distribution of fish habitat and short fishing seasons.
Due to the possible impacts of climate change, ocean temperatures
may shift, causing fish to enter new habitats and creating more
favorable fishing conditions. The North Pacific Fishery Management
Council recognized the importance of properly managing these
emerging fisheries and it proposed in June that the U.S. close
all federal waters in the Arctic Ocean until a management regime
is put in place. S.J. Res 17 is consistent with that effort.
The resolution also addresses the problem of illegal, unreported,
and unregulated (IUU) fishing. It calls upon the U.S. to help
prevent fishing on the high seas of the Arctic until an international
fisheries management plan is developed. The plan would contain
measures to combat IUU fishing that continues to undermine fisheries
worldwide. Senator Stevens is leading the fight against IUU fishing
and believes that eliminating these illegal fishing practices
is a key to maintaining the health of Alaska's fisheries.
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