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Article 76. Definition of the continental
1. The continental shelf of a coastal
State comprises the sea-bed and subsoil of the submarine areas that
extend beyond its territorial sea throughout the natural prolongation
of its land territory to the outer edge of the continental margin,
or to a distance of 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which
the breadth of the territorial sea is measured where the outer edge
of the continental margin does not extend up to that distance.
2. The continental shelf of a coastal
State shall not extend beyond the limits provided for in paragraphs
4 to 6.
3. The continental margin comprises
the submerged prolongation of the land mass of the coastal State,
and consists of the sea-bed and subsoil of the shelf, the slope and
the rise. It does not include the deep ocean floor with its oceanic
ridges or the subsoil thereof.
4. (a) For the purposes of this Convention,
the coastal State shall establish the outer edge of the continental
margin wherever the margin extends beyond 200 nautical miles from
the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured,
(i) a line delineated in accordance
with paragraph 7 by reference to the outermost fixed points at each
of which the thickness of sedimentary rocks is at least l per cent
of the shortest distance from such point to the foot of the continental
(ii) a line delineated in accordance
with paragraph 7 by reference to fixed points not more than 60 nautical
miles from the foot of the continental slope.
(b) In the absence of evidence to the
contrary, the foot of the continental slope shall be determined as
the point of maximum change in the gradient at its base.
5. The fixed points comprising the line
of the outer limits of the continental shelf on the sea-bed, drawn
in accordance with paragraph 4 (a) (i) and (ii), either shall not
exceed 350 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth
of the territorial sea is measured or shall not exceed 100 nautical
miles from the 2,500 metre isobath, which is a line connecting the
depth of 2,500 metres.
6. Notwithstanding the provisions of
paragraph 5, on submarine ridges, the outer limit of the continental
shelf shall not exceed 350 nautical miles from the baselines from
which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured. This paragraph
does not apply to submarine elevations that are natural components
of the continental margin, such as its plateaux, rises, caps, banks
7. The coastal State shall delineate
the outer limits of its continental shelf, where that shelf extends
beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth
of the territorial sea is measured, by straight lines not exceeding
60 nautical miles in length, connecting fixed points, defined by
co-ordinates of latitude and longitude.
8. Information on the limits of the
continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from
which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured shall be submitted
by the coastal State to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental
Shelf set up under Annex II on the basis of equitable geographical
representation. The Commission shall make recommendations to coastal
States on matters related to the establishment of the outer limits
of their continental shelf. The limits of the shelf established by
a coastal State on the basis of these recommendations shall be final
9. The coastal State shall deposit with
the Secretary-General of the United Nations charts and relevant information,
including geodetic data, permanently describing the outer limits
of its continental shelf. The Secretary-General shall give due publicity
10. The provisions of this article are
without prejudice to the question of delimitation of the continental
shelf between States with opposite or adjacent coasts.
Article 77. Rights of the coastal State
over the continental shelf
1. The coastal State exercises over
the continental shelf sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring
it and exploiting its natural resources.
2. The rights referred to in paragraph
1 are exclusive in the sense that if the coastal State does not explore
the continental shelf or exploit its natural resources, no one may
undertake these activities without the express consent of the coastal
3. The rights of the coastal State over
the continental shelf do not depend on occupation, effective or notional,
or on any express proclamation.
4. The natural resources referred to
in this Part consist of the mineral and other non-living resources
of the sea-bed and subsoil together with living organisms belonging
to sedentary species, that is to say, organisms which, at the harvestable
stage, either are immobile on or under the sea-bed or are unable
to move except in constant physical contact with the sea-bed or the
Article 78. Legal status of the superjacent
waters and air space and the rights and freedoms of other States
1. The rights of the coastal State over
the continental shelf do not affect the legal status of the superjacent
waters or of the air space above those waters.
2. The exercise of the rights
of the coastal State over the continental shelf must not infringe
or result in any unjustifiable interference with navigation and other
rights and freedoms of other States as provided for in this Convention.
Article 79. Submarine cables and pipelines
on the continental shelf
1. All States are entitled to lay submarine
cables and pipelines on the continental shelf, in accordance with
the provisions of this article.
2. Subject to its right to take reasonable
measures for the explora tion of the continental shelf, the exploitation
of its natural resources and the prevention, reduction and control
of pollution from pipelines, the coastal State may not impede the
laying or maintenance of such cables or pipelines.
3. The delineation of the course for
the laying of such pipelines on the continental shelf is subject
to the consent of the coastal State.
4. Nothing in this Part affects the
right of the coastal State to establish conditions for cables or
pipelines entering its territory or territorial sea, or its jurisdiction
over cables and pipelines constructed or used in connection
with the exploration of its continental shelf or exploitation
of its resources or the operations of artificial islands, installations
and structures under its jurisdiction.
5. When laying submarine cables or pipelines,
States shall have due regard to cables or pipelines already in position.
In particular, possibilities of repairing existing cables or pipelines
shall not be prejudiced.
Article 80. Artificial islands, installations
and structures on the continental shelf
Article 60 applies
mutatis mutandis to artificial islands, installations
and structures on the continental shelf.
Article 81. Drilling on the continental
The coastal State shall have the exclusive
right to authorize and regulate drilling on the continental shelf
for all purposes.
Article 82. Payments and
contributions with respect to the exploitation
of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles
1. The coastal State shall make payments
or contributions in kind in respect of the exploitation of the non-living
resources of the con tinental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from
the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.
2. The payments and contributions shall
be made annually with respect to all production at a site after the
first five years of production at that site. For the sixth year,
the rate of payment or contribution shall be 1 per cent of the value
or volume of production at the site. The rate shall increase by 1
per cent for each subsequent year until the twelfth year and shall
remain at 7 per cent thereafter. Production does not include resources
used in connection with exploitation.
3. A developing State which is a net
importer of a mineral resource produced from its continental shelf
is exempt from making such payments or contributions in respect of
that mineral resource.
4. The payments or contributions shall
be made through the Authority, which shall distribute them to States
Parties to this Convention, on the basis of equitable sharing criteria,
taking into account the interests and needs of developing States,
particularly the least developed and the land-locked among them.
Article 83. Delimitation of the continental
shelf between States with opposite or adjacent coasts.
1. The delimitation of the continental
shelf between States with opposite or adjacent coasts shall be effected
by agreement on the basis of international law, as referred to in
Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice,
in order to achieve an equitable solution.
2. If no agreement can be reached within
a reasonable period of time, the States concerned shall resort to
the procedures provided for in Part XV.
3. Pending agreement as provided for
in paragraph 1, the States concerned, in a spirit of understanding
and co-operation, shall make every effort to enter into provisional
arrangements of a practical nature and, during this transitional
period, not to jeopardize or hamper the reaching of the final agreement.
Such arrangements shall be without prejudice to the final delimitation.
4. Where there is an agreement in force
between the States concerned, questions relating to the delimitation
of the continental shelf shall be determined in accordance with the
provisions of that agreement.
Article 84. Charts and lists of geographical
1. Subject to this Part, the outer limit
lines of the continental shelf and the lines of delimitation drawn
in accordance with article 83 shall be shown on charts of a scale
or scales adequate for ascertaining their position. Where appropriate,
lists of geographical co-ordinates of points, specifying the geodetic
datum, may be substituted for such outer limit lines
or lines of delimitation.
2. The coastal State shall give due
publicity to such charts or lists of geographical co-ordinates and
shall deposit a copy of each such chart or list with the Secretary-General
of the United Nations and, in the case of those showing the outer
limit lines of the continental shelf, with the Secretary-General
of the Authority.
Article 85. Tunnelling
This Part does not prejudice the right
of the coastal State to exploit the subsoil by means of tunnelling,
irrespective of the depth of water above the subsoil.
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