Adm. Thad Allen, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, issued a statement reiterating long-standing Coast Guard support for joining the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“Becoming a party to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea would greatly enhance our global position in maritime affairs. Because of our maritime security and law enforcement missions, the Coast Guard has long been a proponent of achieving a comprehensive and stable regime with respect to traditional uses of the oceans. The convention greatly enhances our ability to protect the American public as well as our efforts to protect and manage fishery resources and to protect the marine environment. From the Coast Guard’s perspective, we can best maintain a public order of the oceans through a universally accepted law of the sea treaty that preserves and promotes critical U.S. national interests.
“The convention strikes the appropriate balance between the interests of countries in controlling activities off their coasts with the interests of all countries in protecting freedom of navigation. The convention provides the framework under which the Coast Guard is able to interdict illicit drug traffickers and illegal immigrants far beyond our own waters. The convention also gives the coastal state the right to protect its marine environment, manage its fisheries and off-shore oil and gas resources within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, and secure sovereign rights over resources of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.
“U.S. military forces, including Coast Guard units, already rely heavily on the freedom of navigation principles codified in the convention. These principles allow the use of the world’s oceans to meet changing national security requirements, including those necessary to fight the global war on terrorism. Becoming a party to the convention will enhance our ability to carry out the many maritime missions of the Coast Guard, refute excessive maritime claims, and participate in interpreting and applying the convention to day-to-day realities.”