Australian Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson has welcomed the findings of the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in New York, confirming Australia’s jurisdiction over an additional 2.5 million square kilometres of seabed.
The Commission’s findings confirm the location of the outer limit of Australia’s continental shelf in nine distinct marine regions and Australia’s entitlement to large areas of shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.
The decision means Australia now has jurisdiction over an extra 2.5 million square kilometres of continental shelf. It gives Australia the rights to what exists on and under the seabed, including:
- oil resources;
- gas resources; and
- biological resources, such micro-organisms, which could be used in medicines.
“This is a major boost to Australia’s offshore resource potential and also to our ability to preserve the marine environment on the seabed,” Mr Ferguson said.
“It demonstrates that Australia’s effective engagement in law of the sea matters delivers results. In many respects Australia has also led the way for other countries looking to confirm their continental shelf boundaries through the Commission. The Government will move quickly to proclaim the outer limits of the Australian continental shelf into law on the basis of the recommendations of the Commission.”