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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 his signature.

"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 Arctic waters."

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.


Source of News:

Office of Sen. Ted Stevens


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Ketchikan, Alaska