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Arctic Nations Sign Search and Rescue Agreement Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell, Alaska’s Representative on U.S. Delegation

May 12, 2011, Nuuk, Greenland – Today representatives from eight Arctic nations came together in Nuuk, Greenland, at the Arctic Council Ministerial to sign the first binding agreement since the Council was formed in 1994. The agreement lays out search and rescue regions to ensure safer tourism, shipping, exploration, and subsistence use of an increasingly accessible Arctic Ocean.

At the ministerial, Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell joined the U.S. delegation led by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski. Other Alaskan participants include Victoria Gofman of the Aleut International Association, Chiefs Gary Harrison and Michael Stickman of the Arctic Athabaskan Council and Jim Stotts of the Inuit Circumpolar Council.

“This is a good agreement to save lives. Now we need investment in infrastructure to live up to our obligations to coordinate with other Arctic nations in the event of an airplane crash, cruise ship emergency or major oil spill,” Treadwell said. “We need Polar Class Icebreakers, Coast Guard presence on the coast, joint exercises, and continued support from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center. We can’t do the job we’re signing up for without that support.”

Ministers also agreed to support an Arctic observation network and a task force on Arctic oil spill preparedness and response. The Sustained Arctic Observation Network will have strong participation from Alaska researchers and is an outcome of the International Polar Year, 2007-2009.

In addition to the U.S., Arctic Council member states include Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden.

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