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Law of the Sea Provides U.S. With Legal Framework
Needed to Maximize Ocean Resources Says Stevens


March 24, 2004
Wednesday - 1:00 am

Tuesday United States Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. During his testimony Stevens explained how he gained valuable perspectives on the need for international cooperation and the management of the world's oceans when he monitored the Law of the Sea negotiations as a freshman senator in 1969.

Since that time Senator Stevens has worked on numerous fisheries management and ocean management issues that were not initially addressed by the Law of the Sea. Those issues of concern were the Moratorium on High Seas Driftnets and the Agreement on Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Species; they have now been addressed by the U.N. Convention.

The Moratorium on High Seas Driftnets began with Driftnet Impact Monitoring, Assessment, and Control Act directing the Secretary of State to negotiate observer and enforcement agreements with nations whose vessels used large scale driftnets on the high seas. This led to the U.N. adoption of a global moratorium on large-scale driftnet fishing in the high seas.

The Agreement on Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Species began with the Convention on Conservation and Management of Pollock Resources in the Central Bering Sea and the 1995 U.N. Fish Stocks Agreement, attempted to better define the obligations and redress for countries where highly migratory species and straddling fish stocks originate. These agreements became the model for the language of the Law of the Sea and helped alleviate concerns about the efficacy of enforcing living marine resource laws internationally under the Convention.

Senator Stevens also worked with Senator Lugar, present Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to include understandings that the Law of the Sea provides for the exclusive right for coastal States to determine the allowable catch of the living resources in its exclusive economic zone, whether it has the capacity to harvest the entire allowable catch, whether any surplus exists for allocation to other States, and to establish the terms and conditions under which access may be granted. This understanding allows for coastal States to maintain their sovereignty in managing resources within their economic zones with a level of sovereignty not previously enjoyed.

Stevens stated "I am pleased with the declaration for U.S. accession to the treaty...Specifically, these declarations confirm the right and sovereignty of the United States to manage our natural resources, both living and nonliving, in our exclusive economic zone. The Law of the Sea can provide us with the comprehensive legal framework we need to maximize our use of the oceans' resources, which will ensure their healthiness and productivity to come."


Source of News Release:

Office of U.S. Senator Ted Stevens
Web Site



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