Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Arctic Regional Hydrographic Commission Meeting, 27-29 September 2011

The Arctic Regional Hydrographic Commission (ARHC) was established a year ago in October 2010, and is currently holding its second meeting in Copenhagen (27-29 September 2011).   Documents submitted for this meeting, including national reports from all five coastal states and a status report (ArHC2-11A) on plans for an Arctic Spatial Data Infrastructure  (Arctic SDI) are available on the ARHC meeting website.  The ARCH held its first meeting in Ottawa (4-6 October 2010). At the first meeting, the report of the US Coastal Hydrographic Commission (USCHC Update)ARHC1-04B indicated that technical experts met in Ottawa on July 22, 2010 in anticipation of a maritime boundary agreement in the Beaufort Sea (see media reports and earlier posts from February 2010 and March 2010 on the progress toward resolution of this maritime boundary dispute).  Technical discussions continue in anticipation of resolving this well-managed maritime boundary disagreement between Canada and the United States.

Icebreaking into the Arctic

The USCGC HEALY embarked Barrow, Alaska, in August 2008 to map the US extended continental shelf, or ECS, in the Arctic Ocean (HLY 0805). Healy sailed again from 7 August to 16 September, 2009 (HLY 0905) to continue ECS mapping, joining with the Canadian icebreaker, the Louis S. St.-Laurent. The two vessels mapped together again in 2010 (see HLY1002) and 2011 (HLY1102).

As the only law professor on the science crew, I was along on HLY 0805 and 0905 to better understand
the science behind the legal process that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea establishes for states making ECS submissions. As to why the US is mapping now, even though it has not yet acceded to the Convention, read on both here, and in the Law of the Sea notes below.

Thanks to
Vermont Law School and especially to Larry Mayer, Director of the University of New Hampshire's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, for making my part in the trip possible.
Thanks, as well, to Adriane Colburn, for opening new windows on and for the deep.