Canada mapping its undersea arctic shelf

July 11, 2011 at 6:44 PM

OTTAWA, July 11 (UPI) -- A Canadian ship is heading to the arctic to map out the continental shelf to identify undersea territory and resources that belong to Canada, officials said.

The Canadian coast guard vessel Louis St-Laurent will be joined on its four-month survey mission by the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Healy, The Globe and Mail reported Monday.

It will be the ship's fourth annual trip to map the shelf to measure where it extends beyond the 200-nautical-mile zone to which Canada already has exclusive exploitation and exploration jurisdiction.

The mission will gather data to present to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf by December 2013.

The commission was set up in 2003 under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which uses a complicated formula to declare the geological characteristics of the sea floor to determine the outer limit of the continental shelf that can be claimed by nations bordering the arctic.

The arctic region is a strategic piece of Canada's future that must be sustained and protected, Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield said.

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