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

Insular Operations Command and San Cristóbal Coast Guard Boat execute a naval presence at the limit of the Insular Exclusive Economic Zone. Taken from the Twitter account of the Ecuadorian Navy. Courtesy

By Gladys Rivadeneira

August 5, 2020 – 06h00

Quito – 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 above it, from in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Convemar).

The continental shelf includes 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 their subsoil or they 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.”

In addition, in Article 78, the Convention provides that “the rights of the coastal State over the continental shelf do not affect the legal status of the superjacent waters or that of the airspace located over such waters” and that “the exercise of the rights of the coastal State on the continental shelf shall 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 does not have jurisdiction.

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

“Let it be very clear, what extends is the continental shelf, the marine soil and subsoil, not the overlying waters, so that, although we have an extended continental shelf, without a solution to continuity, the same does not happen with the Area. Exclusive Economic Zone (ZEE), because the Convemar prohibits the ZEE from extending beyond 200 miles, ”Salvador said last Monday.

Gallegos also said it, just the Minister of Defense, Oswaldo Jarrín, indicated that they were about to conclude the studies of the Carnegie mountain range to expand the platform that goes from Galapagos to the continent. “Convemar does not include (in the extension) the upper water column,” said the chancellor.

This extension is one of the options that Ecuador has, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Right to the Sea (Convemar), to protect its maritime resources beyond 200 miles, within which are the 12 miles of territorial sea and the 188 of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which includes the contiguous 24-mile zone.

Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
© SOS Galápagos, 2021

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