Ireland Extends Continental Shelf Waters by 56,000 Square Kilometers

Noel Dempsey T.D., the Minister for Communications, Marine & Natural Resources today announced that Ireland has secured a recommendation from the United Nations Commission on the establishment of the Outer Limits of Ireland's Continental Shelf in the Porcupine Abyssal Plain.

"I am delighted to announce that earlier this week Ireland's Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr David Cooney, received a document containing the recommendations of the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. This means that Ireland is now in a position to establish the limits of its extended continental shelf (beyond 200 nautical miles) in this area and the limits based on the recommendations of the Commission are final and binding," commented Minister Dempsey on making the announcement.

Ireland made its submission for this area, known as Zone B, in 2005 thus becoming the fourth country in the world to make a submission to the UN Commission, and it now becomes the third country in the world to receive recommendations (after the Russian Federation and Brazil). The additional area added to Ireland's continental shelf is some 56,000 square kilometers, some 80% of the land area of the State. Under the Law of the Sea Convention, a coastal State exercises sovereign rights over its continental shelf for the purpose of exploring and exploiting the natural resources of the seabed and subsurface.

To the south, in 2006 Ireland became the first country in the world to make a joint submission (together with France, Spain and the UK) for the area known as Zone C in the Bay of Biscay. Examination of this submission has now been completed and recommendations for this area are expected to issue in September this year.

To the north, informal talks are continuing on the Hatton-Rockall area with Faroes/Denmark, Iceland and the UK in an effort to progress to the definition of an outer limit in an area of overlapping claims from the four States.

"I would like to thank Ireland's technical team for their dedication and commitment and I am sure that after the successful conclusion to this round our team can go on to achieve further successes in the discussions on Zone C and the Hatton-Rockall area," concluded Minister Dempsey.