International Seabed Authority

I recently came across the site for the International Seabed Authority, an autonomous organization formed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. From their “about” page:

The Authority is the organization through which States Parties to the Convention shall, in accordance with the regime for the seabed and ocean floor and subsoil thereof beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (the Area) established in Part XI and [the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of that part of the Convention], organize and control activities in the Area, particularly with a view to administering the resources of the Area.

This is an area that should be of considerable interest to Canada at the moment, given the increased concern by Arctic nations about their precise northern, Arctic ocean boundaries.


  1. Keep in mind that the “Area” is only that part of the deep seabed that is beyond both the 200 mile exclusive economic zone and the extended continental shelf beyond 200 miles, and only the minerals on or under the seabed fall within the purview of the Authority. In that region, exploitation is open to any entity sponsored by a member state of the Convention and exclusive rights to a particular minesite are recognized by the Authority according to a non-discriminatory set of technical, environmental and financial criteria.

    In fact, valuable minerals are generally found in the continental shelf (including the geological shelf, slope and rise). The definition of the outer boundary of the shelf in the Law of the Sea Convention was designed for the benefit of coastal states so they would include most mineral deposits within their territory.

    Canada will do quite well in enclosing mineral resources in the Arctic once it submits its proposed boundaries to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.