Canadian Foreign Policy and the Law of the Sea by Barbara Johns, Mark Zacher

By Barbara Johns, Mark Zacher

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64 The Department of Finance in particular was concerned about having to pay a fixed percentage of offshore resource revenues to the developing countries for what might prove to be an uneconomic resource domestically. In addition, there was a lack of widespread support for the idea, especially from the developed countries, as well as from a number of wide-shelf developing countries which had approached the Canadian delegation to express their concern with the proposal. Consequently, Canada quietly dropped the revenuesharing concept prior to the 1974 Caracas session.

The government defined Canada's interest in the shelf in strictly functional terms (control by the coastal state over exploitation of seabed resources off its coasts) and placed the main weight of its diplomatic effort on ensuring that the limits of coastal-state jurisdiction on the shelf were not defined in a way that would compromise the special Canadian geographical circumstances of a broad, unusually deep, shelf configuration. The definition in the convention, although not the one favoured by the Canadian delegation, did fulfil this requirement and, therefore, in conjunction with the natural separation of The Exploitation of the Seabed 13 the various maritime issues, effectively depoliticized the shelf issue for Canada as well as for most other coastal states.

Notions of territoriality, jurisdiction, and sovereignty which find their way into every distance—depth or other continental shelf formula.... Let us begin out in the centre of every sea in the world... and reserve out of each the same percentage—say 50, 60, 70 or even 80%—of the underwater acreage. Such an approach would have the advantages of certainty, simplicity and equity. 38 This scheme was reiterated again during the 1970 SBC meetings,39 and yet again at the twenty-fifth General Assembly (1970),40 and appeared, for that time, to supersede the margin position.

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