"This joint research is another step supporting Canada's submission in relation to the extended polar continental shelf in the High Arctic," said Minister Lunn. "And we will use this important data as part of the scientific basis of Canada's submission to the UN by the end of 2013."
Canada's Government made mapping of the Arctic a national priority in both the Speech from the Throne and Budget 2008. Canadian researchers have been conducting surveys and collecting geological data about the extent of the continental shelf to extend Canada's territory beyond the currently recognized limit of 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres), potentially adding up to 1.75 million square kilometres - an area about the size of the Prairie Provinces.
"The need to demonstrate our sovereignty in the Arctic has never been more important, which is why our government has made this research a top priority," said Minister Lunn. "Our commitment to this initiative, as well as other investments in the North, is ultimately about turning potential into prosperity for this remarkable region and for our country as a whole."
In April of this year, Minister Lunn travelled to an ice camp north of Ellesmere Island, about 700 km north of Canada's most northerly community, to meet with Canadian researchers working on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) project.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) confirms the sovereign rights of coastal states over the continental shelf for exploration and the use of natural resources within 200 nautical miles. In cases where the continental shelf extends beyond 200 nautical miles, UNCLOS requires that a coastal state delimits the shelf's outer limits using scientific criteria. Canada has until 2013 to submit information on the extent of its continental shelf to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
FOR BROADCAST USE:
Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn today announced that Canada has completed an important step in mapping Canada's Arctic's undersea continental shelf.
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