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Treadwell Calls on Maritime Industry to Help with Arctic Marine Safety

May 29, 2013, Seattle, WA – Lt. Governor Treadwell today called on the international maritime industry to help Alaska in its push for Arctic marine safety as the Arctic Ocean, the Bering Strait, and passages through the Aleutians are used increasingly in global commerce.

In a keynote address to marine industry participants at The Promise of the Arctic conference in Seattle, Treadwell appealed to shippers to help make Arctic shipping safe, secure and reliable for three important reasons: "because it is right, because it is fair and because it is profitable."

The lieutenant governor referred to an oil spill agreement negotiated during a meeting hosted in Alaska last year; that agreement was signed at the eight-nation Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting two weeks ago. "The agreement is that we will work together to respond to Arctic oil spills – not just at the time of an accident, but before an accident – to prevent problems, expose and cure our deficiencies," Treadwell said.

Treadwell invited the U.S. maritime industry to help with safety because it is right: "If we can't take care of the Arctic Ocean then we don't deserve to use it." Treadwell noted that Alaska's Arctic coastal residents depend on ocean resources for a majority of their food in some cases, and that "an accident by any player in the Arctic would affect all players."

He added that the U.S. maritime industry should join the fight for safer oceans because it is fair. “American vessels using this ocean are regulated to the maximum, but foreign vessels go right by our door with no contingency plans. They are not paying the bills – and you are – for spill preparedness, both in the Aleutians and the Bering Strait region."

Finally, Treadwell told the audience that safe shipping is profitable. American firms will provide the tugs. Alaska firms are looking at providing spill response capacity. Safe shipping allows Alaska's vast sought-after resources in oil and gas, rare earth minerals, fisheries, forest products and cruise tourism to move forward. 

"The shipping industry requires safety but it sells reliability," Treadwell said. "And to get reliability we need investment." Alaska has pushed for public and private investment in Arctic ports, tugs to keep vessels off rocks, sensors to know where vessels are, and forward-basing for the Coast Guard in the Arctic. The State is also supporting U.S. efforts with the Arctic Council, the International Maritime Organization, and bilateral discussions with our maritime neighbors to promote better contingency planning for Arctic shipping.

Treadwell told the audience that Alaska's door is open for business and that Alaskans understand the challenges and the opportunities of the brand new ocean. 

The conference was hosted by the Anchorage-based Institute of the North and by Philips Publishing Group, publisher of Pacific Maritime Magazine.

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