Extent of Norway’s continental shelf in the High North clarified
The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has issued its final recommendations on the outer limits of the Norwegian continental shelf in the High North. This means that a final assessment has been made as regards the part of the seabed where Norway is responsible for natural resource management.
“This establishes a clear division of responsibility and creates predictable conditions for activities in the High North. It confirms that Norway has substantial rights and responsibilities in maritime areas of some 235 000 square kilometres. The recommendation is therefore of historic significance for Norway,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
According to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, all coastal States automatically have a continental shelf that extends 200 nautical miles from the coastline. However, many countries, including Norway, have continental shelves that extend further than this. These States are required to submit documentation to this effect to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, which reviews the submission in accordance with established guidelines and makes recommendations regarding the outer limits of the continental shelf.
“The recommendations provide a basis on which Norway can establish the limits of its continental shelf in the High North. This is a precondition for future resource management, creates a firmer basis for investments and is an effective implementation in the High North of the legal order for the oceans set out in the Law of the Sea Convention,” said the Foreign Minister.
The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf made its recommendations on the basis of documentation submitted by Norway in 2006 concerning the Arctic Ocean, the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea. Since then the Commission has thoroughly reviewed the documentation and discussed it with Norwegian experts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Petroleum Directorate, the Norwegian Mapping Authority and the Universities of Oslo, Bergen and Tromsø. According to the recommendations, the part of the Norwegian continental shelf in the High North extending beyond the 200-mile zone covers areas measuring some 235 000 square kilometres. The outer limits that Norway establishes on the basis of the recommendations will be final and binding. The recommendations have no effect on unresolved issues concerning delimitation between Norway and neighbouring States.
“I would like to extend a special thank you to all those who have helped in the work of establishing the extent of Norway’s continental shelf in the High North. The cooperation between experts in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Petroleum Directorate, the Norwegian Mapping Authority and the Universities of Oslo, Bergen and Tromsø has been very fruitful,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.