Natural Resources Canada

Natural Resources Canada

August 11, 2008 16:54 ET

Natural Resources Canada: Canada-U.S. to Jointly Survey Arctic Seafloor

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 11, 2008) - The Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources, today announced that Canada and the United States will team up to conduct a joint survey of the undersea continental shelf in the western Arctic this fall. This joint research is another important step in mapping the polar continental shelf in the High Arctic, announced just days after Canadian scientists presented initial joint Canadian-Danish results for the eastern Arctic.

The CCGS Louis S. St.-Laurent icebreaker will leave Kugluktuk, Nunavut, on August 21 and collect seismic data in the Beaufort Sea. The US Coast Guard Healy will leave Barrow, Alaska on August 14. On or about September 8, the two vessels will meet and continue their research for three weeks as a two-ship operation. Through this collaboration, Canada and the U.S. will efficiently collect information to assist both countries in delimiting the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean.

"Our Government made the North a priority in both the Speech from the Throne and our last budget. We are delivering on our commitment to turn potential into prosperity for northerners and all Canadians," said Minster Lunn. "Through collaboration with our U.S. neighbours, we will maximize both scientific and financial resources while collecting important data as part of Canada's submission to the U.N. by 2013."

Canadian researchers have been conducting surveys and collecting geological data about the extent of the continental shelf to extend Canada's territory beyond the current 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres), potentially adding up to 1.75 million square kilometres - an area about the size of the Prairie provinces.

Canadian representatives attended the 2008 International Geological Congress in Oslo, Norway, this past weekend to present findings to the global scientific community on joint Canadian-Danish surveys in the eastern Arctic about the natural extent of the North American continent.


The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) confirms the sovereign rights of coastal states over the continental shelf for exploration and the use of natural resources within 200 nautical miles. In cases where the continental shelf extends beyond 200 nautical miles, UNCLOS requires that a coastal state delimits the shelf's outer limits using scientific criteria. Canada has until the end of 2013 to submit information on the extent of its continental shelf for the Arctic and Atlantic regions to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.


The Minister of Natural Resources, Gary Lunn, today announced that Canada and the United States will team up to conduct a joint survey of the undersea continental shelf in the western Arctic this fall.

NRCan's news releases and backgrounders are available at

Contact Information

  • Media:
    Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa
    Office of the Minister
    Jasmine MacDonnell
    Press Secretary
    The general public:
    Mon-Fri, 8:30-4:30 EDT
    Telephone: 613-995-0947
    TTY: 613-996-4397
    (teletype for the hearing-impaired)