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IBRU: Centre for Borders Research

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The French Continental Shelf – Partial Submission

(16 February 2009)

On 5th February 2009, France submitted a claim to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) for continental shelf areas beyond 200 nautical miles (nm) from the French Antilles islands in the eastern Caribbean and off the Kerguelen islands. As a partial claim in accordance with Article 76, paragraph 8, of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, this submission only covers these two areas a partial submission without prejudice to any other claims or disputes in existence. Reports suggest that consideration of this submission is scheduled to be included in the provisional agenda of the twenty-fourth session of the Commission due to be held on 10th August – 11th September 2009 in New York. With regards to the French Antilles, France has recognised that there are potential overlapping claims to extended continental shelf with Barbados, but the two states have consented that this should not prevent the CLCS from examining their respective submissions. With regards to the Kerguelen Islands, France claims that there are no present or foreseeable disputes with any other nation in that area although the south eastern endpoint of their claim does not coincide exactly with the north eastern terminus of Australia’s extended continental shelf claim. The CLCS has already approved Australia’s claim to extended continental shelf areas off Heard and McDonald islands which located southeast of Kerguelen island. The relatively small extended continental shelf claim off the Atlantic side of the French Antilles is based on nine points all established using the 1% sediment thickness or Gardiner formula. The much larger area of extended continental shelf claimed off Kerguelen Island is based on 885 points, the vast majority of which were established using the foot-of-slope plus 60 nm or Hedberg formula.

Sources: For full text of the 2009 French submission in both English and French please see Ocean and Law of the Sea – Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea website at: