Law of the Sea
The Law of the Sea
In 1982, after many years of negotiation, the United Nations adopted the international International law of the sea. Since then it has been signed by more than 150 States, amongst them Germany. The Law of the sea takes care of all questions regarding the economic use, the definition of sovereignty zones, navigation, goals of protection and others, for the ocean areas beyond national territorial seas, which in general applies to the areas beyond the 12 mile limit.
The continental shelf
Two important regulations of the Law of the Sea are the definition of a 200 nautical miles wide exclusive economic zone (EEZ) offshore coastal states (Part V of the Law of the Sea) and the definition of the juridical continental shelf (Part VI of the Law of the Sea). The juridical continental shelf as defined in the Law of the Sea is at least 200 nautical miles wide but can be extended under particular morphological and geological conditions (Article 76 of the Law of the Sea) to a breadth of 350 nautical miles or even more. Claims for the extension of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles must comply with Article 76 and the recommendations of a UN commission (UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS)) especially established for this task. Submissions according to these regulations have to be made by the coastal state not later than ten years after the ratification of the Law of the Sea. For early accessions, this term expires May 2009. In the future, the continental shelf and its possible extensions may become economically important for the coastal states because it entitles them to exploit the natural resources of the seabed and subsoil. Therefore, BGR offers services primarily for developing countries to meet the complex requirements of Article 76 and to accomplish the extensive procedures necessary to initiate and complete submissions to the United Nations.
Natural resources of the deep sea
According to the Law of the Sea the resources that can be found beyond national jurisdiction are regarded as heritance of mankind. To supervise, regulate and control their use the International Seabed Authority of the United Nations was established in Jamaica. Currently, the International Seabed Authority has to deal mainly with the subject of exploiting nodular manganese deposits. Its main tasks are the licensing of potential nodular manganese resources and the drawing up of international legally binding regulations and codes of conduct, that have to be followed by licence holders. The Legal and Technical Commission plays a leading role in determining regulations, limiting values and allowed techniques for the deep-sea mining. The commission advises the International Seabed Authority as well as the involved decision-making committees of the United Nations. The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources actively participates in the work of these committees and also supports the work of the International Seabed Authority, by assisting them in workshops and advisory services.