New marine resource opportunities, fresh challenges
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Recent decades have witnessed a tremendous extension of coastal state claims to maritime jurisdiction offshore. Where once coastal state claims were restricted to a relatively narrow band of waters, generally out to three nautical miles (nm) from the coast, now claims of 200nm breadth are commonplace and in many cases may extend substantially further offshore. These extensive maritime spaces offer considerable potential resource opportunities. This is particularly the case with respect to seabed energy resources of various types. Seabed resource opportunities relating to minerals (seabed mining) and marine genetic resources are also likely to arise in these areas.
Accompanying the significant, and ongoing, extension of coastal state jurisdiction over broad expanses of the oceans, significant advances in drilling and exploration technology are taking place that are likely to facilitate resource exploration activities to advance into ever deeper waters and further offshore. 3 For example, continental shelf areas seawards of the 200nm limits of the exclusive economic zone ("EEZ") are likely to provide the deep and ultra-deepwater plays set to form the "next frontier" for the oil and gas industry over the next twenty-five years. 4 Accordingly, it is anticipated that billions of dollars will be devoted to deep sea exploration efforts in the foreseeable future, with trillions of dollars of resources at stake. 5 Analogous developments are also taking place, in respect of seabed mining opportunities and marine genetic resources, albeit not so far advanced as for the oil and ...