News of the WeekLaw of the Sea

A Final Push to Divvy Up the Sea by All the Rules

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Science  19 Jun 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5934, pp. 1500-1501
DOI: 10.1126/science.324_1500a

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Since coming into effect 15 years ago, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has been guiding how 156 countries settle maritime boundary disputes, watch over their natural resources, and—especially in the Arctic—extend their rights to any riches on or beneath the adjacent seafloor. But the United States doesn't have the legal right to extend its claims or a seat on the commission that reviews the plans of other countries, because it has never ratified UNCLOS. Last week, at a symposium on the implications of the dramatic shrinking of summer Arctic sea ice, scientists discussing the results of four summer mapping expeditions shared the podium with policymakers saying that the time has come for the U.S. Senate to act.