At the opening day of the 3rd Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations, sponsored by the National Ice Center and the US Arctic Research Commission, Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) called for ratification of the Law of the Sea Convention in his speech to the conference, as did Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in a letter read on her behalf. Senator Begich proposed four additional policy recommendations, including U.S. ratification of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, designation of a US “Arctic Ambassador”, more investment in arctic science and, finally, strengthening arctic infrastructure, including “replacement of America’s aging ice-breakers, ensur[ing] that new Virginia class submarines are fully Arctic capable and new Coast Guard facilities from which to base aerial surveillance and emergency response capabilities” (from the related press release).
Over the past few months, Alaska’s governor and Legislature have also made separate calls for the U.S. Senate to ratify the Law of the Sea Convention. Governor Sarah Palin (R), spoke recently in a radio talk show of “having to do some educating there in conservative circles” about the importance of the treaty and reiterated that the U.S. has “got to be a player” by joining the Convention. In May, the Alaska Legislature passed Joint Resolution JJR 222, which details Alaska’s particular interest in US ratification of the treaty. Caitlyn Antrim, of OceanLaw.Org, has reported on both developments more extensively in her daily email service, saying of the Joint Resolution that it “was introduced on March 2nd, 2009, passed the House on April 8th, the Senate on April 16, was enrolled and transmitted to the Governor on May 27th. Hearings were held, out of state witnesses testified and the issue was debated in both houses, all in a period of less than three months. ”
The NIC/USARC conference at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis continues for two more days (June 9-11). For more information now, visit the conference website. Of special note is that of the speakers at the Symposium's opening day who mentioned the Law of the Sea Convention, every one of them called for U.S. ratification. These included the Hon. Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator, and Admiral Thad W. Allen, Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).