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Begich Plan to Strengthen Alaska’s Fishing Industry

Second Term Will Focus On Reauthorization of Magnuson-Stevens Act, Fighting Frankenfish, and Expanding Alaska’s Fleet


ANCHORAGE- Alaska’s fishing industry is a critical part of our state’s economy, sustaining over 78,000 jobs that make our state’s fisheries some of the greatest in the world. Alaska fishermen produce over 5 billion pounds of seafood annually, 55% of America’s production, worth more than $5.8 billion each year, providing essential nutrition to millions of families across the country. Alaska’s salmon, halibut, cod, pollock, and crab lead the industry in quality, and responsible management is necessary to make sure our fish stocks are available to fishermen for decades to come.

“As a lifelong Alaskan, I know Alaska’s fisheries are a renewable resource that must be protected and cultivated. That’s why I’ve been working to reauthorize and modernize the Magnuson-Stevens Act to promote sustainable fishing policy in federal waters. It’s also why I oppose the Pebble Mine project, which poses irreversible threats to Bristol Bay, the largest salmon fishery in the world. Going forward, I will continue to fight for the Alaska fishing industry, helping to revitalize the fleet and enact smart policies that keep our fisheries sustainable and promote growth. Alaska fishermen have some of the toughest jobs in the world. I will continue to stand up and fight for what we deserve in my second term,” said Senator Mark Begich.


Proven Alaska Leadership on Fishing Issues

Mark used his clout to become chairman of the key Senate panel in charge of fishing and maritime issues – the Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Fisheries, and the Coast Guard. From that position, Mark has kept Alaska’s commercial fisheries front and center and has been able to lead the charge to reauthorize and revitalize the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA). It’s the law that lays out clear rules for fishing in federal waters to maximize the catch while preserving catches for future generations.

In a Second Term, Mark Begich will:

  • Continue to fight for those impacted by failed salmon returns due to natural disasters as he has successfully in the past. Mark helped secure essential disaster assistance, like $21 million for the Chinook disaster impacting Alaska fishermen in the Yukon Kuskokwim Rivers and Cook Inlet.
  • Press forward on MSA Reauthorization, for which he held 9 listening sessions to hear directly from Alaskans on how to best move forward and meet the needs of our world-class fisheries for subsistence, commercial, and sport fishing.
  • Stay vigilant on pirate fishing in our waters. He fought to pass four international treaties cracking down on pirate fishermen and will continue to make sure they are strictly enforced – everyone must follow the law to keep our fisheries healthy and sustainable, and violators must be dealt with harshly.

Revitalizing the Fleet and Expanding Alaska’s Role

Alaska’s fishing industry has been the pride of our state for decades – generations of Alaskans have grown up fishing for salmon, halibut, crab, and other species both to earn a livelihood or meet their family’s subsistence needs. As the fishing fleet ages, with many boats more than 30 years old and some dating back to World War II, Mark has supported policies and investments to rebuild the fleet and help a new generation of fishermen enter the industry. Many current fishermen have done these difficult jobs for decades, and Mark will make sure a new generation will have the resources they need to continue this Alaska tradition.

In a Second Term, Mark Begich will:

  • Support legislation to increase loans to young fishermen who need resources capital to invest in their future in fisheries, which will pay off for decades. Cost estimates for the permits, boats, gear, and equipment needed to enter some fisheries exceed $300,000, so we must invest in our people to keep the industry robust.
  • Strengthen NOAA’s Fishery Finance Program and the Maritime Administration Title XI program to rebuild the our fishing fleets to improve safety and fuel efficiency and incorporate new technologies and techniques like excluder nets and deck sorting to address persistent issues like bycatch.
  • Beat back federal overreach from agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency by extending the small boat discharge waiver included in his Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, to make sure Alaska’s fishing fleet doesn’t have to waste valuable time on unnecessary paperwork and oversight.
  • Increase home-porting of vessels in Alaska including the fishing fleet, Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) vessels to take advantage of our unique strategic location and resources.
  • Strengthen the University of Alaska’s Oceans and Fisheries Science programs, which provide important training programs for fishermen and generate home grown talent. Mark will push to move NOAA’s state-of-the-art Alaska Fishery Science Center from Seattle to Juneau to keep experts as close to the fisheries as possible.
  • Increase shellfish mariculture opportunities in Southeast and Southcentral.

Protecting Our Fisheries and Alaska Salmon

Our fisheries are an essential Alaska resource, not just today but for the future of our state. Mark knows that smart policies that prevent over-fishing and keep our fisheries sustainable for decades to come are essential, so he has supported clear, science-based rules for all to follow. He has also fought the federal government to keep genetically modified (GMO) salmon out of Alaska waters and off the market. There is no room for these potentially dangerous Frankenfish on Alaska’s or America’s dinner plate.

In a Second Term, Mark Begich will:

  • Maintain his firm opposition to the Pebble Mine, which is the wrong mine in the wrong place. Like Governors Jay Hammond and Tony Knowles and the late Senator Ted Stevens, he knows we cannot risk the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery.
  • Keep fighting the Obama Administration on Frankenfish – Mark has kept the FDA, which wants to deem these lab-created “fish” as safe for people to eat and companies to raise in huge salmon farms, in check for six years. He sponsored an effort to ban Frankenfish without full scientific approval, and he worked alongside Senator Murkowski to successfully pass an amendment to this year’s Appropriations bill requiring labeling of GMO salmon. Alaskans have a right to know that what they’re eating is real fish, not a lab experiment, and Mark will never stop fighting Frankenfish.
  • Make sure Alaska’s record on seafood sustainability serves as a national model, not as a target for overregulation. Mark took on Walmart, Sodexo, and federal agencies like the National Park Service who tried to insist on meaningless third party certification of our seafood by “experts” in London. We have the best record of sustainable management, and Mark won’t stand for Alaskans being forced to pay for a pointless certification by the same people who put a stamp of approval on Russian Pollock despite clear and serious concerns.
  • Push to increase scientific efforts in monitoring Alaska’s oceans and coastal habitats. Mark supports the Alaska Ocean Observing System to closely track changes in water temperature and acidification so we can adapt and respond as quickly as possible. He knows we need better monitoring, understanding, and planning for the future, utilizing modern buoys and other hi-tech innovations to gather data about the water’s temperature, salinity and acidity.
  • Get rid of Russian pollock from federally-funded programs, like school lunches and the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and replace it with Alaska pollock.