Law of the sea, the continental shelf, and marine research

Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union
By:  and 



The question of the amount of seabed to which a coastal nation is entitled is addressed in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This treaty, ratified by 153 nations and in force since 1994, specifies national obligations, rights, and jurisdiction in the oceans, and it allows nations a continental shelf out to at least 200 nautical miles or to a maritime boundary. Article 76 (A76) of the convention enables coastal nations to establish their continental shelves beyond 200 nautical miles and therefore to control, among other things, access for scientific research and the use of seabed resources that would otherwise be considered to lie beyond national jurisdiction.

To date, seven submissions for extended continental shelves (ECS) have been filed under UNCLOS (Table 1). These submissions have begun to define the ambiguities in A76. How these ambiguities are resolved into final ECS boundaries will probably set important precedents guiding the future delimitation of the ECS by the United States, which has not ratified the convention, and other coastal nations. This report uses examples from the first three submissions—by the Russian Federation, Brazil, and Australia—to identify outstanding issues encountered in applying A76 to ECS delimitation.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Law of the sea, the continental shelf, and marine research
Series title Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union
DOI 10.1029/2007EO220001
Volume 88
Issue 22
Year Published 2007
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Coastal and Marine Geology Program, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 4 p.
Larger Work Title Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union
First page 237
Last page 240
Country Australia, Brazil, Russia
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