Conservatives should favor Law of Sea because it establishes property rights regime for high seas resources
Myth: Conservatives have never supported any treaty or international policy framework that mirrors the Law of the Sea Treaty.
Fact: Conservatives laud the work of Peruvian economist and political scientist, Dr. Hernando DeSoto, who theorized about why states with strong property rights protections are economically prosperous and politically stable. DeSoto talks about the importance of "clearing title" in his research. He writes quite favorably about the settlement of the American West, in which territory acquired by the United States was parceled out by the federal government, who in turn, cleared title to the to those parcels in order to secure settlement. And while the state governments could have done this themselves when they transformed from territories to states, they decided to send that title clearing and parceling responsibility to the federal government.
Had they not, chaos would have ensued, and the West would not have been settled.
That is, in essence, what the Law of the Sea Treaty does. It puts the responsibility for clearing title and parceling out the commons in the hands of the International Seabed Authority, allowing for a strong framework of property rights to give interested parties the certainty to make their investments.
The use of property rights to inform public policy problems isn't limited to land and conservatives are working on certain projects to prevent degradation of commonly-held resources by applying the principles of private property rights within the oceans. Building on the work of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and other libertarian organizations, IFL has been involved in the effort to apply private property rights to species conservation and replenishment. The work of former CEI Scholar Michael D'Alessi on oceanic fishery conservation has led to the creation of the Catch Shares program, which IFL has worked on in its "FairestCatch.org" initiative. In that effort, federal agencies are responsible for working with fishing councils to create private property rights in oceanic fish stocks-essentially parceling out the fish that can be caught and clearing title to those fish.