Canada to collect more data for continental shelf claim

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent in the Arctic in 2008. (Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press)
The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent in the Arctic in 2008. (Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press)
Canada announced a new scientific survey on Friday to contribute to the country’s Arctic continental shelf submission.

“This scientific survey is another step toward realizing this government’s vision for the Arctic, which includes clearly defined boundaries and recognition of the full extent of Canada’s continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean,” said Rob Nicholson, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, in a news release.

Canada’s coast guard ships Louis S. St-Laurent and Terry Fox will  be involved in the six-week survey in the Arctic Ocean and will return to the community of Kugluktuk in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut on September 17, 2015.

Competing claims

As climate change increasingly affects sea ice in the North,  the Arctic coastal states (Canada,  Denmark/Greenland, Norway, Russia and the United States) have been working to settle their various claims to seabed areas that may one day be accessible for resource extraction.

International law already entitles countries to an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles from their coasts. But under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), countries can submit scientific data if they believe their continental shelf extends beyond 200 nautical miles.

Norway settled its claim in 2009.

It initially claimed a northern continental shelf area of  250,000 square kilometres, but it accepted modifications by UNCLOS that put the area at 235,000 square kilometres.

Denmark filed its claim with the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in 2014. It claims around 900,000 square kilometers of the continental shelf north of Greenland, including the North Pole.

Russia is expected to deliver its application to the commission within the next few months. It claims  1.2 million square kilometers along the Lomonosov and Mendeleev Ridge.

The United States has not yet ratified UNCLOS and cannot make a claim unless they do so.

Canada’s claim

In 2013, Canada’s then foreign affairs minister John Baird raised eyebrows when, during a news conference, he said the country’s scientists and been asked to do further work mapping the continental shelf so it included the North Pole.

Allegations that the request came from Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, after scientists concluded Canada’s continental shelf ended south of the pole, were not disputed at the time.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Interactive atlas shows Inuit trails, Blog by Mia Bennett

Denmark: Denmark claims North Pole, Barents Observer

Iceland:  Revisualizing the Cryosphere, Blog by Mia Bennett

Russia:  Application for Russia’s Arctic shelf claim out on tender, Barents Observer

Sweden:  Swedish ships mapped at bottom of sea, Radio Sweden

United States:  U.S. to collect Arctic data for modern navigational charts, Alaska Dispatch News






Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.
Netiquette »

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *