Extension of Continental Shelf Will Not Protect Marine Life

The extension of the continental shelf will cover the resources of the soil and marine subsoil, not those of the waters

If Ecuador achieves the approval of the extension of the continental shelf from 200 miles to 350 miles in the sea, it would be able to protect the resources of the soil and marine subsoil, but not the resources of the water column that rises over it, according to which establishes the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Convemar).

The continental shelf comprises the bed and subsoil of the underwater areas that extend beyond the territorial sea, according to article 76 of the Convemar. The resources that this area of the sea possesses are minerals and other non-living ones from the seabed and its subsoil, as well as living organisms belonging to sedentary species, that is, those that during the exploitation period are immobile on the seabed or in its subsoil or can only move in constant physical contact with the bed or subsoil, according to paragraph 4 of Article 77 of the Convention.

According to paragraph 1 of this same article, the “coastal State (in this case, Ecuador) exercises sovereign rights over the continental shelf for the purposes of its exploration and exploitation of its natural resources.”

Furthermore, in Article 78, the Convention establishes that “the rights of the coastal State over the continental shelf do not affect the legal status of the overlying waters or the airspace located over such waters” and that “the exercise of rights of the coastal State on the continental shelf should not affect navigation or other rights and freedoms of other States ”.

While the resources that are in the water column that rises over those additional 150 miles are living resources, among these species of fish, mollusks and more, and that does not cover the extension of the continental shelf, because they are international waters over those that the foreign fleet has been fishing for the last week and that are in “the corridor” over which Ecuador has no jurisdiction.

In recent days, the State Attorney General, Íñigo Salvador, Foreign Minister Luis Gallegos and the captain of the passive service Humberto Gómez have coincided in this analysis.

“Let me be very clear, what extends is the continental shelf, the marine soil and subsoil, not the overlying waters, so that, even though we have an extended continental shelf, with no continuity solution, the same does not occur with the Zone Exclusive Economic (ZEE), because the Convemar prohibits the ZEE from extending beyond 200 miles, ”Salvador said last Monday.


Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
© SOS Galápagos, 2020

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