Ocean boundaries redrawn

1/29/03

CBC

SAINT JOHN, N.B. A group of ocean mappers at the University of New Brunswick is redrawing the world's oceans under new rules set by the United Nations, divvying up trillions of dollars worth of natural resources in huge chunks of the sea floor.

Countries have six years to make the case for where their boundaries should be, creating what UNB mapper David Monahan calls the largest land grab in human history.

Monahan is the head of Canada's ocean mapping program, and he splits his time between Ottawa and the Ocean Mapping Group at the University of New Brunswick. He and others at the University are responsible for charting the boundaries of the continental shelf and with that the extent of Canada's boundaries.

Canada will stake a claim to all of the Grand Banks, and vast swaths of the Arctic Ocean.

"I think of it as the world ocean being divided up by this treaty, that's two thirds of the world surface it's almost mind boggling to think of how big it is the area we're thinking of for Canada is about 17 times the size of the province of New Brunswick."

Twenty per cent of the world's oil and gas is in the sea floor and Monahan points out there are even resources we can't tap into, like frozen methane.

"The amounts of methane we know about is probably enough to run the world for 80 to 100 years."

With all that at stake, Monahan predicts the claims will lead to international disputes with Russia and Denmark over the Arctic Ocean and with the United States off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts. That's why Monahan says Canada will spend $60 million in the next six years on the project.

 

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