Summary of the Evaluation of Canada’s Extended Continental Shelf Program - April 2011 to March 2018

The Extended Continental Shelf Program (ECS) aims to define the outer limits of Canada's continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from its coastal baselines. By following the process set out in United Nations Conventions on the Laws of the Sea and establishing its outer limits, Canada will gain international recognition of its extended continental shelf. This will define where Canada may exercise its existing sovereign rights over the natural resources of the seabed and subsoil.

The purpose of this evaluation was to determine the Program’s effectiveness, efficiency, and progress in achieving its ultimate outcome of international recognition of Canada’s outer limits of the ECS in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

Key findings

  • The Program allowed for successful data acquisition in uncharted territory, including the Arctic Ocean.
  • The Program benefitted from international scientific and diplomatic collaboration, which has cascaded into other spheres.
  • The Program’s governance structure works will and facilitates cooperation.
  • Knowledge transfer and maintaining capacity will pose a future challenge, and the Program will experience a budget shortfall after 2020-2021.

Key considerations


The evaluation recommends that the Program draft a strategy for the remaining phases of the Program addressing human resources and knowledge transfer, financial resources, and data access, maintenance, and storage issues.

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