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GAO examined U.S. participation in the various sessions of the Third Law of the Sea Conference (1974-1976) and the status of the issues as they stood before the conference session scheduled for May 23, 1977. The intention of the conference was to reach agreement on a comprehensive treaty covering all the uses of the oceans. The most important issues were: the breadth of the territorial sea; "transit passage" through, under, and over international straits used for navigation; use and conservation of the living resources of the sea; coastal states' rights to the mineral resources of the Continental Shelf; exploitation of the minerals of the deep seabed; protection of the marine environment; marine scientific research; and a system for settling disputes arising from the interpretation and application of the treaty.

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