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They state that by assigning responsibility for maritime zones, the treaty would improve protections for the environment. It could do just the opposite. It requires, for example, that nations either harvest their entire allowable catch in certain areas or give the surplus to other nations. Such a use it or lose it policy is reminiscent of federal grazing policy, which until recently required ranchers to use their forage rights or lose them. Because ranchers lacked the flexibility to remove cattle for extended periods, overgrazing resulted.

Mr. Negroponte and Mr. England also suggest that ratification is needed to have legal certainty of such maritime rights as “innocent passage.” They’re wrong in two ways: Such rights already exist under the 1958 Convention on the Territorial Sea, and the treaty governs the behavior of signatories — currently numbering more than 150 nations — regardless of whether the United States accedes to the treaty.

Finally, they suggest the treaty would bolster U.S. national security. Instead, it would complicate some of these efforts by subjecting certain actions to judgment by an international tribunal.

The Law of the Sea treaty should be scuttled.


Vice president

The National Center for Public Policy Research