President Piñera joined by Foreign Minister Allamand announce presentation to the United Nations of the Extended Continental Shelf to the West of the Antarctic Peninsula
The President of the Republic, Sebastián Piñera, joined by Foreign Minister Andrés Allamand, announced today that Chile will present to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLPC), a report that determines the Extended Continental Shelf that is projected from the coast western Chilean Antarctic Territory, in the area of the Bellingshausen Sea and the Shackleton Fracture.
"Today we are meeting a new milestone in the exercise of our sovereignty over the 'Land of Tomorrow', the Chilean Antarctic Territory," celebrated President Piñera on the conclusion of the report, which contains the results of 12 years of bathymetric investigations, scientific studies, and technicians.
"It is a very transcendent work that demonstrates Chile's commitment to Antarctica and is proof of our active role in scientific research and conservation in that continent," he added at the meeting where the report was announced, in which the ministers of Interior and Public Security, Rodrigo Delgado, and National Defense, Baldo Prokurica, in addition to the undersecretary of Defense, Cristián de la Maza; the Commander in Chief of the Navy, Juan Andrés de la Maza, and the Director of Borders and State Limits, Ximena Fuentes. Telematically, parliamentarians, scientists, researchers, and representatives of the academic world attended.
The continental shelf is the submarine continuation of the submerged continent under the sea. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Convemar) recognizes all states that have a coastline of 200 nautical miles. But in some cases, it can exceed this distance, reaching 350 nautical miles or more.
To prove the existence of the continental shelf beyond 200 miles, coastal countries must conduct technical and scientific studies that demonstrate that there is a geomorphological continuity of the continent under the sea. These must be submitted to the CLPC, the entity that must validate the above.
"This is going to be one of the most important legacies of the Presidency of Sebastián Piñera," said Foreign Minister Allamand. "The continental maritime shelves are of enormous importance, particularly in the field of protecting biodiversity and in everything that has to do with scientific knowledge of the seabed. And truly, with this, Chile claims that we have a character and that we are a tricontinental country," he explained. The report, which will be presented in the coming weeks and which was the result of measurement works started in 2009, determines the existence of an extended platform that covers a total of 210,000 km2. It adds to the presentation that Chile made in December of last year to the CLPC on the report of the Extended Continental Shelf in the Province of Easter Island, which could reach 700 nautical miles (a surface area of 550,000 km2), and the update of the Nautical Chart No. 8, established last August, which determines the outer limit of the continental shelf of 200 nautical miles from Punta Puga to the Diego Ramírez islands. "If one adds the number of square kilometers of these three presentations, it is almost exactly equivalent to the territory that Chile has: 700 thousand km2", commented the Minister, who stressed that "with this, Chile claims that we are a tricontinental country. We have a position in the South American territory, another in the insular territory around Easter Island and we also have this extended continental shelf in Antarctica."
In order to determine the extended continental shelf of our continental and insular territory, including the Chilean Antarctic Territory, Chile created the National Committee of the Continental Shelf and prepared a preliminary report on all the areas in which an extended shelf could potentially exist, which was delivered to the CLPC in May 2009.
In the said report it was determined that there would be a projection of an extended continental shelf in the Taitao Peninsula, the Juan Fernández Archipelago, the San Félix, and San Ambrosio Islands; the Chilean Antarctic Territory, and the Easter and Salas y Gómez Islands.
From then on, all the scientific information necessary to prove the existence of the extended continental shelf of our national territory began to be collected. It was a joint technical and scientific work of the Chilean Navy and the National Directorate of Borders and State Limits of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The work included the acquisition of bathymetry and geophysical data, as well as the necessary geodetic measurements, obtained thanks to the scientific cruises carried out onboard the Oscar Viel Icebreaker.
"The importance of this report is fundamental, first, as a very important step in the exercise of Chile's sovereign rights in Antarctica. But it is also a milestone for the study of the Antarctic Continent, for the development of science," said Ximena Fuentes, Director of Borders and Limits of the State.