Aboard the Healy

The Coast Guard icebreaker Healy is moored at City Pier 2 in Kodiak, Alaska on Thursday, July 18, 2013. The Healy, which arrived Wednesday evening, is scheduled to remain in Kodiak until Monday, when it embarks for the Arctic Ocean and three months of scientific missions. (AP Photo/Kodiak Daily Mirror, James Brooks)

Alaska’s all-Republican congressional delegation is celebrating a memo by President Donald Trump calling for the continuation of an initiative to map areas of Alaska’s coastline and oceans.

The memo, building upon a memo issued in 1983 by then-President Ronald Reagan, directs federal agencies to continue mapping the shoreline and nearshore of Alaska and the rest of the United States EEZ or exclusive economic zone. 

The EEZ is among the largest in the world, including more than 13,000 miles of coastline and about 3.4 million square nautical miles of ocean with its jurisdiction, and was created by Reagan to move forward the development of ocean resources.

“This is an important step for Alaska, especially for the Arctic as we are woefully behind in developing up-to-date maps for the region,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski said. “The Arctic is crucial to our nation’s geopolitical, economic and environmental well-being. Alaskans know this better than perhaps anyone else. Our waters are home to an abundant variety of untapped natural resources that can be used for food, medicine and energy. Only a small part of the Arctic has been charted to modern standards, hindering the safety of maritime operations in the region. This Presidential directive builds on my own efforts to secure strong funding for NOAA’s hydrographic surveys to address the backlog of charting needs in the Arctic. Mapping the waters around our state will provide valuable information on critical minerals and coastal resources while supporting safer shipping in the Arctic.”  

Sen. Dan Sullivan thanked Trump for prioritizing the issue.

“As Alaskans, we depend on our oceans to provide for our families and drive our economy,” Sullivan said. “Ensuring that the maps of both our state’s and nation’s waters are contemporary is vital to ensuring our economic growth and national security. 

The provisions outlined in this order will serve to bolster our understanding of our oceans and coastlines.”

Rep. Don Young noted the importance of the mapping initiative to the state’s economy and the country’s safety.

“Ensuring our oceans are thoroughly mapped is one of the most important things we can do to protect our economy and the maritime careers that depend on safe, navigable waters,” Young said. “This order is once again proof that President Trump and his administration are strong partners for the State of Alaska. As the Arctic’s significance to our global economy continues to grow, a better understanding of our oceans will be crucial. I will continue working with the Alaska Delegation and the Administration to ensure that Alaska is well-equipped for the years ahead.”

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.