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Under the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention, States have sovereign rights over the resources of their continental shelf out to 200 nautical miles from the coast. Where the physical shelf extends beyond 200 nautical miles, States may exercise rights over those resources to the outer limits of the continental shelf. More than 80 States may be entitled to claim sovereign rights over their continental shelf where it extends beyond 200 nautical miles from their coast, and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf is currently examining many of these claims.
This book examines the nature of the rights and obligations of coastal States in this area, with a particular focus on the options for regulating activities on the extended continental shelf. Because the extended continental shelf lies below the high seas, the area poses unique legal challenges for coastal States that are different from those faced in respect of the shelf within 200 nautical miles. In addition, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea imposes some specific obligations that coastal States must comply with in respect of the extended continental shelf.
The book discusses the development of the concept of the extended continental shelf. It explores a range of issues facing the coastal State in regulating matters such as environmental protection, fishing, bioprospecting, exploitation of non-living resources and marine scientific research on the extended continental shelf. The book proposes a framework for navigating the intersection between the high seas and the extended continental shelf and minimising the potential for conflict between flag and coastal States.