Senate Considers Treaties to Go After Fish Piracy

The U.S. Senate is considering two international treaties that Sen. Lisa Murkowski says would help crack down on pirate fishing in the North Pacific. Murkowski today told the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee that illegal high seas fishing is an economic threat to the crab industry. The senator says it lowers the market price, costing legitimate harvesters more than half a billion dollars since the year 2000.

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“As recently as 2011, NOAA Law Enforcement seized 112 metric tons of illegally harvested Russian king crab that was being shipped to U.S. markets through the Port of Seattle,” she told the committee.

Murkowski says the illegal crab catch has also deprived Alaska of millions in landing fees. One of the treaties aims to require countries to better police their ports to keep pirate shipping vessels from unloading. The senator has a special interest in the Bering Sea crab fishery, made famous by the “Deadliest Catch” TV show. Murkowski says her son just finished a season working as a crab fisherman.

“He’s heading back home and he’s probably going to have some Bering Sea crab stories that I’m not sure his mother is really ready to hear yet, but I’m bracing myself,” she said.

Both treaties had broad support at today’s Senate hearing.

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Liz Ruskin covers Alaska’s congressional delegation, federal agency decisions that shape life in the 49th state, money in politics and elections. She has deep roots in Alaska and this is her third stint in Washington, a city she has grown to love.

She was born in Anchorage and is a West High graduate. She studied political science at the University of Washington and has an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia. During graduate school, she moved to Washington to intern as a D.C. correspondent. But for her first real journalism job, she moved back to Alaska to work at the Homer News. She was there for three years before taking a job at the Anchorage Daily News. Over the course of nine years in Anchorage, she covered City Hall, courts, state politics, and Native and rural affairs.

Then, in April 2001, she moved back to Washington to work in McClatchy Newspaper’s D.C. bureau as a correspondent for the Anchorage paper. She stayed in the position for five years.

She took a year off for a journalism fellowship at the University of Colorado in Boulder, then freelanced for several years from the U.K. and Japan, in print and radio.

When a vacancy occurred in APRN’s one-person Washington bureau, she jumped at the opportunity. Liz has been APRN’s Washington, D.C. correspondent since October 2013.

lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  | About Liz