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AK State House Majority Caucus press release: Legislature Urges Law of the Sea Treaty Ratification (HJR 19)

HJR19 Prods Congress to Sign on to Protect the U.S.’s Only Arctic Coastline

Juneau, Alaska – The Alaska Legislature today sent a resolution to Congress urging it to sign on to the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty to protect the nation’s rights in the Arctic and be a part of the governing body for world ocean policy.

House Joint Resolution 19, sponsored by the House Special Committee on Economic Development, Trade & Tourism, asks Congress to ratify the treaty, entered into force in 1994 and signed on by all the other Arctic nations. “The treaty governs actions on, over and under the world’s oceans and with the activity today in the Beaufort Sea, Chuckchi Sea and Arctic Ocean we must sign on to protect our interests,” Committee Chair Bob Herron, D-Bethel, said.

Member nations can make claims beyond their exclusive economic zone, or EEZ, under the treaty, and for Alaska that would mean adding acreage larger than California to the nation’s resource base. “It’s estimated the area of Continental Shelf north of Alaska extends beyond 200 miles. That’s beyond our EEZ, and if we can prove the claim it opens secure shipping, fishing, resource exploration and other avenues and industries for the nation and Alaska to pursue,” Herron said. “Our senior senator, Lisa Murkowski, asked that we send this message to congress, and I am pleased my colleagues in the Senate, led by Sen. Paskvan, saw fit to pass the resolution.”

Copies of HJR 19, which passed the Alaska Senate by a vote of 15 to two, will be sent to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chair John Kerry, SCFR Ranking Republican Richard Lugar, Alaska’s congressional delegation, and all other members of the U.S. Senate.

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