Canada and U.S. Compete over Claims to Arctic Sea Floor


U.S. claim filed last month includes large chunk of Beaufort Sea floor that Canada also seeks to control


Canada’s federal government is pledging to work with its American counterparts after the U.S. claimed parts of the Arctic sea floor that Canada also wants.

Spokesman for Global Affairs Canada said in an email that Canada expects to follow the process set out in a United Nations treaty despite the fact the U.S. hasn't ratified the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Canada and the U.S. are in frequent communication with regards to the continental shelf in the Arctic and have expressed their commitment along with other Arctic states to the orderly settlement of overlapping claims, he wrote.

The U.S. filed its extended continental shelf (ECS) claim last month with the United Nations agency that evaluates such requests. It includes a large chunk of the Beaufort Sea floor that Canada also seeks to control.

A large part of the overlap concerns how the border should be drawn. Canada wants it extended directly north from the 141st meridian while the U.S. says it should be drawn at a 90-degree angle from the shoreline.

If claims to ECS are recognized, then the claimant state receives exclusive rights to the seabed and subsoil of underwater areas.

The UN doesn't rule on boundaries, but evaluates the science behind each country's claim and leaves it to them to negotiate a settlement. The UN body that assesses the quality of the science in each country's expanded continental shelf claim is expected to take years to arrive at its decisions.

Source: CBC