Stevens: U.S. should consider international sea treaty

Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2003

FAIRBANKS - The United States should consider entering into an international treaty guiding use of the oceans - but only if it would prevent foreign entities from taking fish surpluses in U.S. waters, U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens said.

The Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands region have a huge annual surplus of uncaught pollock, Stevens told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday as the panel was considering the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council limits take of all groundfish in the region to 2 million metric tons per year, Stevens noted. But biologists have determined that fishermen could take up to 3.54 million tons of pollock alone without damaging the population, he said.

Stevens, an Alaska Republican, said he doesn't want foreign fleets laying claim to such surplus fish just because the U.S. is taking a conservative approach to management.

The Law of the Sea Convention has been stalled in the Senate for decades. Such treaties must be approved by the Senate before they take effect, and many members disagreed with language regulating deep-sea mining.

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