UK claims Antarctic sea floor

Aus claim not pursued: All territorial claims in the far south were frozen under the terms of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty. Despite strong indications of offshore oil and gas reserves, a ban on minerals exploration could not be revisited there until 2048. But the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf opened the way for claimant countries to extend their possessions anyway. The Federal Government spent $40 million to survey a claim to about 1.8 million square kilometres of extended continental shelf off the Australian Antarctic Territory, which it lodged with the UN, drawing objections from six countries. In a compromise that avoided more open conflict, Australia lodged the claim with the UN commission, then asked that it be shelved.

Likely to be shelved, too: "It’s likely not to go far because it is contested sovereignty," said Dr Hemmings, a senior fellow at the University of Canterbury’s Gateway Antarctica. "The UK proposal would be sure to attract a raft of protests too." Hemmings said countries that made claims did so because under the terms of the Commission of the limits on the Continental Shelf they had a "use it or lose it" deadline of 2009.

The Age, 18/10/2007, p. 5

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