Senate clears treaties to combat ‘pirate fishing’

The Senate approved four treaties Thursday aimed at stopping “pirate fishing.”

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) called for swift passage of the treaties and got unanimous consent to do so.

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“It’s really piracy of our fisheries,” Murkowski said on the Senate floor. “You’ve got the Russians who are over taking the King Crab, illegally harvesting them, and dumping them on the U.S. markets ... depressing the price of crab. 

“So we’ve got four treaties in front of us that will help us level this playing field.”

The treaties aim to stop illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing — also known as pirate fishing — so that U.S. fishermen don’t have to compete with people illegally selling fish in the country.

Wicker said the treaties would prevent vessels carrying illegally fished cargo from docking in U.S. ports among other things.

“These are people who steal our fish out of our waters and sell it back to us,” Begich said. “At the end of the day what is happening is pirate fishing.”

Whitehouse said pirate fishing results in a loss of $10 billion to $24 billion every year world-wide.

The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee had previously cleared treaties 112-4, 113-1, 113-2 and 113-3.