Friday, June 6, 2008

UNCLOS is Once Again 'On the Move', Being Promoted By Alaska's Senators and President Bush; But the Reality About UNCLOS Continues to Evade Them

U.S. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski delivered the keynote speech opening the Arctic Transportation Conference convened by the U.S. Maritime Administration on June 5, 2008, at Washington, DC's St. Regis Hotel. Among the points emphasized, she highlighted the recent plurilateral 'Greenland Declaration of Cooperation' made by Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States delegations - i.e., the 'Five Arctic Powers', which supports the UN Law of the Sea Convention as the definitive "framework for legal governance of the Arctic region".



In particular, Senator Murkowski, emphasized how "it is now more crucial than ever for the U.S. to ratify the UNCLOS...Some in the Senate say that UNCLOS ratification is not necessary and that the U.S. can choose which portions of it to follow. It is better to be a player at the table than to be on the outside. UNCLOS ratification would enhance the ability and credibility of the U.S. to influence the outcome. The U.S. cannot make a claim to an extended continental shelf and have it honored if it doesn't ratify the UNCLOS...A precautionary approach is called for in the Arctic...The U.S. must be a leader in the Arctic and climate change... Sustainable alternative energy is needed. Environmental protection leadership is needed...A congressional resolution [The resolution, S.J. Res.17] was recently passed [ indicates "May 21, 2008: This bill passed in the House of Representatives by voice vote. A record of each representative's position was not kept."] calling for the development of an international fisheries regime for the Arctic. The President will sign this resolution...[The President signed the resolution on June 3, 2008] The U.S. sits on the edge of a precipice...Some senators are hesitant to ratify the UNCLOS and cling to the old environment around which the treaty was negotiated...but the legal and real environment around the treaty early on has changed requiring UNCLOS ratification...We need to be seated at the table...Senators including myself will move to push the treaty through the Senate before the end of the will certain members of the administration...Every member of the Senate must be whipped..."

[See Congress Approves Stevens Resolution to Protect Arctic Fisheries (May 21, 2008), at: “As ocean temperatures change and fish habitats expand northward, we may see valuable fish stocks migrate north into the Arctic Ocean,” said Senator Stevens. 'This resolution directs the United States to pursue international agreements to stop any expansion of fishing in the Arctic Ocean until a science-based fishery management plan can be implemented. After the President signs this resolution, I will work with the State Department to bring this issue to the United Nations.'” ].

S.J. Res. 17:

One Hundred Tenth Congress
of the
United States of America

Begun and held at the City of Washington on Thursday, the third day of January, two thousand and eight

Joint Resolution
Directing the United States to initiate international discussions and take necessary steps with other Nations to negotiate an agreement for managing migratory and transboundary fish stocks in the Arctic Ocean.

Whereas the decline of several commercially valuable fish stocks throughout the world's oceans highlights the need for fishing nations to conserve fish stocks and develop management systems that promote fisheries sustainability;

Whereas fish stocks are migratory throughout their habitats, and changing ocean conditions can restructure marine habitats and redistribute the species dependent on those habitats;

Whereas changing global climate regimes may increase ocean water temperature, creating suitable new habitats in areas previously too cold to support certain fish stocks, such as the Arctic Ocean;

Whereas habitat expansion and migration of fish stocks into the Arctic Ocean and the potential for vessel docking and navigation in the Arctic Ocean could create conditions favorable for establishing and expanding commercial fisheries in the future;

Whereas commercial fishing has occurred in several regions of the Arctic Ocean, including the Barents Sea, Kara Sea, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, and Greenland Sea, although fisheries scientists have only limited data on current and projected future fish stock abundance and distribution patterns throughout the Arctic Ocean;

Whereas remote indigenous communities in all nations that border the Arctic Ocean engage in limited, small scale subsistence fishing and must maintain access to and sustainability of this fishing in order to survive;

Whereas many of these communities depend on a variety of other marine life for social, cultural and subsistence purposes, including marine mammals and seabirds that may be adversely affected by climate change, and emerging fisheries in the Arctic should take into account the social, economic, cultural and subsistence needs of these small coastal communities;

Whereas managing for fisheries sustainability requires that all commercial fishing be conducted in accordance with science-based limits on harvest, timely and accurate reporting of catch data, equitable allocation and access systems, and effective monitoring and enforcement systems;

Whereas migratory fish stocks traverse international boundaries between the exclusive economic zones of fishing nations and the high seas, and ensuring sustainability of fisheries targeting these stocks requires management systems based on international coordination and cooperation;

Whereas international fishing treaties and agreements provide a framework for establishing rules to guide sustainable fishing activities among those nations that are parties to the agreement, and regional fisheries management organizations provide international fora for implementing these agreements and facilitating international cooperation and collaboration;

Whereas under its authorities in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council has proposed that the United States close all Federal waters in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas to commercial fishing until a fisheries management plan is fully developed;
Whereas future commercial fishing and fisheries management activities in the Arctic Ocean should be developed through a coordinated international framework, as provided by international treaties or regional fisheries management organizations, and this framework should be implemented before significant commercial fishing activity expands to the high seas:
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That

(1) the United States should initiate international discussions and take necessary steps with other Arctic nations to negotiate an agreement or agreements for managing migratory, transboundary, and straddling fish stocks in the Arctic Ocean and establishing a new international fisheries management organization or organizations for the region;

(2) the agreement or agreements negotiated pursuant to paragraph (1) should conform to the requirements of the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement and contain mechanisms, inter alia, for establishing catch and bycatch limits, harvest allocations, observers, monitoring, data collection and reporting, enforcement, and other elements necessary for sustaining future Arctic fish stocks;
(3) as international fisheries agreements are negotiated and implemented, the United States should consult with the North Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council and Alaska Native subsistence communities of the Arctic;
(4) until the agreement or agreements negotiated pursuant to paragraph (1) come into force and measures consistent with the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement are in effect, the United States should support international efforts to halt the expansion of commercial fishing activities in the high seas of the Arctic Ocean.

Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Vice President of the United States and
President of the Senate.
[See President Bush Signs H.R. 2356, H.R. 2517, H.R. 4008, S. 2829, and S.J.Res. 17 Into Law, at: . "S.J.Res. 17, which encourages the United States to initiate international discussions with other Arctic nations to negotiate an agreement for managing migratory and transboundary fish stocks in the Arctic Ocean"].

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The "reality" does not evade the president, the Senate and its foreign relations committee, all former living Chiefs of Naval Operations, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, successive secretaries of state (including Baker and Shultz) and numerous former federal officials who are familiar with what the treaty says AND DOES NOT SAY. Reality check, anyone?