ISLAMABAD–Pakistan’s exclusive economic zone has grown by 150 nautical miles, adding around 50,000 square kilometres of international waters to its territory.
A United Nations commission has accepted Pakistan’s claim for extension of its continental shelf limits from 200 nautical miles to 350 nautical miles, according to a statement issued by the Pakistan Navy on Friday. “This adds over 50,000 sq kms of continental shelf to the existing 240,000 sq kms of EEZ under Pakistan’s jurisdiction,” its added.
Pakistan now enjoys exclusive rights over the seabed and subsoil resources, allowing it to drill for petroleum or lay submarine cables or pipelines in the added area.
Article 76 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea allows coastal states to extend their continental shelf beyond 20 nautical miles. However, the state is required to prove its case through technical data to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf – a body of 21 experts in geology, geophysics, hydrography and related disciplines.
In 2005, the navy and the National Institute of Oceanography with the science and technology ministry had started this project. After years of processing technical data, a submission was made to the UN on April 30, 2009.
A seven-member commission after over a year-long scrutiny, adopted the recommendations for extension of the country’s continental shelf. Pakistan’s delegation gave the final presentation on March 10. The UN has now announced the adoption of Pakistan’s claim.
The navy statement termed the decision a landmark in the country’s history which would bring vast economic benefits through the exploitation of extensive natural resources.
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