United Nations Commission on Limits of Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) on completion of its review has accepted Pakistan’s claim for extension of its Continental Shelf limits thereby extending Pakistan’s sea limits from 200 NM to 350 NM. This adds over 50,000 sq.km of continental shelf, to the existing 240,000 sq.km of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), under Pakistan’s jurisdiction. Pakistan will have exclusive rights over the seabed and subsoil resources of the added area. This is a landmark achievement and a momentous event in the country’s history which would bring vast economic benefits through exploitation of extensive natural resources present there. It is a proud moment for the entire nation as Pakistan has become the first country in the region to achieve this remarkable feat.
Article 76 of the UN Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) allows coastal states to extend their Continental Shelf beyond 200 NM. However, a coastal state is required to prove its case through technical data to the UNCLCS, a body of 21 experts in Geology, Geophysics, Hydrography and other related disciplines.
The project to extend Pakistan’s Continental Shelf was started in 2005, jointly by Pakistan Navy, National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), and Ministry of Science & Technology. After 4 years of dedicated work and collection and processing of voluminous technical data, a comprehensive submission was made to UNCLCS on April 30, 2009. On Pakistan’s turn, a seven member sub-commission of UNCLCS undertook in-depth analysis/review of Pakistan’s submission and after over a year long thorough scrutiny and analysis, UNCLCS has now adopted recommendations for extension of Pakistan’s Continental Shelf from 200 to 350 NM.
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