Speaking to 60 Arctic experts and policymakers from 12 countries through a video teleconference, Sen. Mark Begich shared the steps the U.S. must take in response to a warming and rapidly changing Arctic.
"The coming years bring great challenges and opportunities to the Arctic. The U.S. has a major role to play along with other Arctic nations," Sen. Begich told the workshop. "To fulfill that role and responsibility, we must address the broader policy implications of an ice-diminishing Arctic on the diplomatic, scientific and national security fronts. We must make the needed investments to maintain leadership at the top of our globe."
In his remarks, Sen. Begich outlined steps the U.S. must take in order to embrace its role as an Arctic nation including:
- Ensure sustainable fish stocks and properly research and protect the Arctic ecosystem.
- Develop an international protocol on Arctic oil spill prevention and response.
- Expand Coast Guard and NOAA presence in the Arctic.
- Fund research ships, aircraft support on the North Slope and scientific instrumentation.
- Increase Arctic oil spill prevention and response capacity and research.
- Appoint an Arctic ambassador to represent the U.S. on equal footing with other nations.
- Ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty.
Sen. Begich has worked to accomplish several of these steps by introducing several pieces of legislation to improve research and infrastructure improvement related to development on Alaska's outer-continental shelf.
Hosted at the University of Alaska Fairbanks the workshop, entitled the Arctic Ocean Beyond National Jurisdiction, has brought together Arctic experts to discuss the political, economic, logistical and legal future of the Arctic Ocean. Sen. Begich joined the conference from his office in Washington D.C. through a video teleconference.