10.1 Law of the Sea

Department of Ocean Development is the nodal agency for implementation of the provisions of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in India. UNCLOS is an important instrument which establishes the framework and mechanisms for management of oceans.

In accordance with the provisions of UNCLOS, States are entitled to delineate the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and are required to submit data for a claim within ten years from the date of ratification. Delineation of the continental margin in case of India is likely to give an additional area of about 1 million sq. km. outside the EEZ. This area is rich in non-living resources. Sedentary organisms if found beyond the limits of the EEZ, after proper delineation as stipulated in the Convention, would be the inherent resources of the coastal States, with no obligation to give any access for surplus. It will be possible for India to lay submarine cables and pipelines which are important for the communication purposes in this additional area.

The Commission on the Limits of Shelf has come out with the new revised scientific and technical guidelines for delineation of outer limits of continental shelf which are to be provisionally applied pending their formal adoption at the next session. During 1998-99, existing data were consolidated and the quantum of work identified, a trial cruise for bathymetric survey was undertaken and the specification of parameters for seismic data acquisition are in the process of finalisation. The indicative foot of the slope map off West Coast and East Coast was reconciled. A monitoring and review mechanism has also been established with the constitution of a Steering Committee, Standing Committees on Bathymetric Survey and Seismic Survey. The Standing Committees prepared cruise tracks for bathymetric and seismic survey. The Baseline Survey is being continued by National Hydrographic Office. Departmental vessel ORV Sagar Kanya covered a total of 2122 nautical miles of cruise lines in Arabian Sea off Goa during April - May, 1998 for acquisition of bathymetric data.

India participated in the eighth meeting of the States Parties to the UN Convention on Law of the Sea held at New York, USA, in May, 1998 and the third meeting of the Legal and Technical Commission and the resumed fourth session of the International Seabed Authority, held at Kingston, Jamaica, in August, 1998.