What Is the Continental Shelf?

The continental shelf over which Argentina exercises sovereign rights for the purposes of exploring and exploiting its natural resources, comprises the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas that extend beyond its territorial sea and throughout the natural prolongation of its territory.

Legally, the continental shelf starts where the seabed and subsoil of the territorial sea end. In Argentina, the territorial sea extends up to 12 nautical miles from the baselines.

Beyond that point, it is acknowledged that every coastal State has a continental shelf of, at least, up to 200 nautical miles from the baselines.

However, the States that can prove that the natural prolongation of their territory extends beyond such distance, are entitled to determine the outer limit of their continental shelves up to what is technically referred to as the “outer edge of the continental margin.” This has been the task undertaken by our country through COPLA, the result of which is the aforementioned submission to the CLCS in April 2009.