Canada and U.S. to Conduct Second Joint Survey of Extended Continental Shelf in the Arctic

(No. 210 - July 28, 2009) From August 7 to September 16, Canada and the United States are teaming up a second time to conduct a joint survey of the extended continental shelf in the western Arctic Ocean. The 40-day survey will continue the data-collection collaboration that began during last summer’s joint mission. This year’s survey will focus on the region north of Alaska onto Alpha-Mendeleev Ridge and eastward toward the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

“This project is another example of the incredible degree of cooperation between the Canadian and U.S. governments,” said the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Natural Resources. “This collection of data provides a unique and important opportunity to expand Canada's efforts to delineate the outer edge of its continental shelf.”

In heavy ice conditions in some parts of the Arctic, a two-ship operation is needed to collect data. The CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent and the USCGC Healy will rendezvous in the Beaufort Sea on August 9. The ships complement each other since each is equipped to collect a different type of data. The CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent will collect seismic data about the composition of the shelf. The USCGC Healy will collect bathymetric data, which helps to determine the shape of the seabed. The U.S. icebreaker will clear a path while the Canadian ship collects data, and vice versa.

“The joint Arctic survey by Canada and the U.S. is an example of an exceptional and valued partnership,” said the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs. “Canada is an Arctic power. Our government has a clear vision for the North. Determining where Canada can exercise its sovereign rights over seabed resources by delineating the outer edge of the country’s continental shelf in the Arctic is an important element of our Northern strategy.”

“The CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, with its icebreaking and scientific capacity, is a key asset in Canada’s continental shelf delineation, and by working together to manage expensive arctic field operations, each country will save millions of dollars,” said the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. “The vessel contributed to a highly successful survey in 2008, and we are hopeful the 2009 mission will also collect high-quality data.”

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Canada has until 2013 to prepare a submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to delineate the outer limits of its continental shelf beyond the 200-nautical-mile-from-shore limit, thereby determining where it can exercise its sovereign rights. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada is responsible for preparing the submission. Natural Resources Canada’s Geological Survey of Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Canadian Hydrographic Service are responsible for the scientific work needed for the submission.

Canada and the United States plan to continue their interagency and intergovernmental efforts in 2010.

For more information, visit Canada’s Extended Continental Shelf and The U.S. Extended Continental Shelf Project.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Natalie Sarafian
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Jocelyne Turner
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Natural Resources Canada

Media Relations
Natural Resources Canada

Nancy Bishay
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada