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GOP Senate Candidates Discuss Law of the Sea Treaty

United Nations

In the last statewide primary debate, Alaska Republican senate candidates discussed their stance on the international Law of the Sea treaty.   KDLG’s Chase Cavanaugh has more.

Two of the three Alaska Republican candidates for US Senate took part in the Debate for the State Wednesday.  Organized by Alaska Public Media, it was the last statewide debate for Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell and tea party-favorite Joe Miller.  The third contender, Dan Sullivan, did not participate. 

Although the debate covered many topics, one area of particular disagreement was the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  This treaty, coming into force in 1994, established international norms for maritime territory, navigation and resource rights.  The US recognizes nearly all articles of the document, but did not sign it because of disputes on a section governing undersea mineral rights.  

Treadwell expressed his continuing support for UNCLOS, saying that Alaska has benefited from several of its provisions.  To demonstrate this, he discussed a situation in Bristol Bay.

“In 1937, I’m gonna go back in history and there are people listening in Bristol Bay. We had a conservation method for salmon in Bristol Bay that only used sailboats and the Japanese came in with big mechanized trawlers, and Franklin Roosevelt said, “why don’t we do a 200 mile limit?” US policy was set at the time that we didn’t. It was not until law of the sea separated out the fishing right from navigation rights, and that convention was very important.”

Miller disagreed, worrying that the many parties involved in the treaty, as well as its provisions, could subject the United States to excessive transnational regulation.

"With 155 nations currently that ratified it, there’s not going to be a change on the international taxation that’s imposed or on the regulation of the Law of the Sea Treaty on actually factories within lands. In Great Britain, a factory was regulated by the Law of the Sea treaty, in other words a super-EPA. We already have problems with our national EPA. Imagine the United Nations EPA."

Treadwell closed by stating the importance of paying attention to local interests.

“I’ve said to you many times, if you’re gonna expect to win statewide as a senator, pay attention to our fishermen. Dan Sullivan’s not here, he missed a fisheries debate. He’s not here for the last debate that’s reaching the whole state, and I think it’s very important that you understand the needs of the entire state.”

Miller, Treadwell, and Sullivan are competing to replace Democrat Mark Begich in the US Senate.  The Republican candidate will be decided in the Alaska primary election, which takes place on August 19th