By Marian Lyman Kirst
On August 1, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Anchorage officially charged Arne Fuglvog, a veteran commercial fisherman and the fisheries aide to U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, with the crime of poaching wild Alaskan fish. His crimes led to an eventual charge and sentencing for misdemeanor violation of the Lacey Act, which protects wildlife, fish, and plants from illegal trafficking. Fuglvog signed a plea agreement in April, in which he admits to falsifying commercial catch records and selling over 30 tons of illegally caught sablefish for nearly $100,000, reports the Alaska Dispatch:
While working as a commercial fisherman in 2005, Fuglvog took 63,000 pounds of sablefish from an area near Yakutat, more than twice what his permits allowed, according to details provided in the plea deal Fuglvog signed, which was also made public on Monday. After overfishing, Fuglvog falsified reports to cover up the take, stating that the fish had instead been harvested from an area known as the 'Central Gulf,’ according to prosecutors.
And, in a masterful feat of multi-tasked hypocrisy, Fuglvog committed the crimes while serving both as Murkowski's fisheries advisor and on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
Environmental criminals like Fuglvog hold a special place in the annals of scumbaggery, not just because their crimes are the product of greed and neglect, but because their crimes affect the very stuff of life: the food, water, and air that we all need to survive.
Tyler Amon, a Special Agent in Charge with the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, believes environmental crimes are motivated by two things: economics and ego. Environmental criminals, he says, "often have a history of [environmental crime\ and their ability to manipulate the regulations for years leads them to be bolder", to commit more significant violations. They think to themselves, "nobody is watching and I won't get caught."