Murkowski aide resigns, plans to plead guilty to fishing violation

Arne Fuglvog

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski's former fisheries aide Arne Fuglvog (Photo courtesy Alaska Sea Grant)

A former congressional aide may spend as much as ten months in prison for a fishing violation while was a member of the North Pacific Fishery 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.

On 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 last April.

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 Fishery Management Council, the panel 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 thirty-thousand 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 was valued at about $100,000 and transported as part of interstate commerce.

He’s expected to plead guilty during arraignment scheduled for August 9th in U.S. District Court in Anchorage. He declined to comment on Tuesday. Prosecutors have declined to comment until after next Tuesday’s court hearing.

As outlined in the plea agreement, the possible sentence includes a $50,000 fine in addition to ten 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 North Pacific 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 he withdrew from consideration in 2009.

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