Brazil Expands its Maritime Border

Brazil Expands its Maritime Border

In March 2019 the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea’s Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLPC) partially approved Brazil’s April 2015 southern margin request, which will allow Brazil to add 170,000km2 to its continental shelf in addition to its exclusive economic zone.

In accordance with Articles 76 and 77 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Brazil will be able to exercise its sovereign rights for the exploitation of mineral resources and other non-living seabed resources in its expanded maritime territory.

In 2004, after 17 years of research, Brazil submitted its first application to the CLPC to expand the Brazilian continental shelf beyond 200 miles. At that time, the extension requested was 960,000km2, distributed along the Brazilian coast, mainly in the north (Cone do Amazonas and Cadeia Norte Brasileira), southeast (Cadeia Vitória-Trindade and Platô de São Paulo) and southern regions (Platô de Santa Catarina e Cone do Rio Grande), an area that came to be called the ‘Blue Amazon’.

In April 2007 the CLPC concluded its analysis of the claim and decided that Brazil could incorporate approximately 765,000km2 into its continental shelf, which corresponded to approximately 80% of the claimed area. The CLPC also recommended a review of the remaining area claimed.

In support of its additional claim, Brazil made three partial submissions for the south bank, equatorial bank and east bank.

Following extensive data collection and analysis, in April 2015 Brazil submitted a revised partial submission to its south bank claim. The submission applied the technical-scientific basis of Article 76 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to draw the outer boundary.

Brazil’s equatorial margin proposal was submitted in September 2017 and presented at the CLPC meeting in March 2018. Analysis of the application should begin sometime in 2019. The eastern margin proposal was submitted in December 2018 and should be analysed only after the conclusion of the equatorial margin analysis.

Godofredo Mendes Vianna

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