About the New Zealand Continental Shelf project

LINZ commissioned the initial desktop study to collate and examine all relevant data and identify areas where data was lacking relating to New Zealand's Continental Shelf.

The Desktop Study approach is now supported and recommended as a first step for other countries by the UN Commission.

LINZ was responsible for obtaining initial seabed data, determining the furthermost extent of the continental shelf and assisting with developing New Zealand's submission to the United Nations. All marine survey work was completed in 2004. The marine information was then processed, quality assured and submission reports were then written. New Zealand lodged its submission with the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) on 16 April 2006.

Information from marine surveys underpins New Zealand's submission under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to establish the precise outer limits of the ocean floor under our jurisdiction.

The rights to the sea bed resources of the Continental Shelf will have huge potential benefits for future generations. This project can be compared to the United States purchase of Alaska in 1867, where the benefits of gold and oil have flowed into the 20th century.

Before our submission was finalised, LINZ commissioned detailed marine surveys to delimit a claim area equivalent to the size of Western Australia. The data was then combined with existing data and analysed to meet the requirements of article 76 of UNCLOS. Submission reports were then written supporting the scientific analysis and outlining the outer boundary of the extended Continental Shelf.

Once the limits of the shelf are established, we can then plan the management of seabed resources such as the hydrocarbons in the north west area of the Shelf.