Former Murkowski Aide May Face Jail Time for Fishing Violation

Photo from Alaska Sea Grant: Arne Fuglvog

A former congressional aide may spend as much as 10-months in prison for a fishing violation while was a member of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council.

Arne Fuglvog submitted his resignation Sunday as fisheries aide to Senator Lisa Murkowski.  In a statement, Murkowski thanked Fuglvog for his years of service and said he has cooperated fully with the authorities, taken responsibility for his actions and accepted the consequences.

Monday, federal prosecutors filed a single charge of violating the Lacey Act against Fuglvog and announced a plea deal that had been in the works since at least April of 2011.

Prosecutors say Fuglvog falsely reported locations of his sablefish catches between 2001 and 2006.  From 2003 until he was hired by Senator Murkowski in 2006, Fuglvog also served on the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council that’s responsible for managing sablefish and other species in federal waters off Alaska.

Prosecutors single out the 2005 season in which Fuglvog allegedly caught twice his quota of sablefish in the Western Yakutat area. He allegedly covered up his illegal fishing by falsely claiming that the other half of the catch – about 30,000 pounds – was caught in the Central Gulf. The violations occurred when Fuglvog was owner and operator of the fishing vessel Kamilar.

Fuglvog was charged with violating the Lacey Act because the fish – valued at $100,000 – was transported as part of interstate commerce.

He’s expected to plead guilty during arraignment next Tuesday, Aug. 9 in U.S. District Court in Anchorage.  He declined to comment Tuesday.  Prosecutors have declined to comment until after the court hearing.

As outlined in the plea agreement, the possible sentence includes a $50,000 fine in addition to 10-months in prison. He must also pay $100,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for enhancing fish habitat along the Gulf of Alaska coast. He must also have an announcement acknowledging his wrongdoing published in National Fisherman Magazine.

Fuglvog grew up fishing in Petersburg and was named Highliner of the year by National Fisherman’s Magazine in 2003. He also worked as president of the Petersburg Vessel Owners Association and served on the Council’s advisory panel for nine years before his appointment as a full member. He was also a candidate to head up the National Marine Fisheries Service but withdrew from consideration in 2009.

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Matt Miller is a reporter at KTOO in Juneau.

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