Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Indian vessel sets sail on research mission

Sagar Kanya set sail yesterday to embark on the first joint oceanographic research project with scientists from India, the US and Oman, focussing mainly on the depletion of oxygen in the Arabian Sea and in particular around the Omani coast.

Gulf News Online.

Using LADS in Dubai

Adelaide-based company Tenix (Australia) scientists are conducting the biggest survey of Dubai's coastline using an aircraft packed with cutting-edge technology report Gulf News.

Scientists are using the system called Laser Airborne Depth Sounder or Lads to survey up to 25km offshore. It is most effective in water that is less than 70 metres deep, making it ideal for the Arabian Gulf.

Tangaroa 2003

A deep-sea research ship, the Tangaroa, probed the Tasman Sea for a month last year, snaring 500 species of fish and 1 300 species of invertebrates that are now being studied by scientists around the world.

The project, funded by Australia's National Oceans Office and New Zealand's Ministry of Fisheries, uncovered weird and wonderful sea dwellers including fish with tongues covered in teeth and fish with hinged teeth that enable them to swallow large meals. The 24 researchers aboard the ship also found the fossilised tooth of an extinct megalodon - a shark twice the size of the feared white shark. Full story - The Star (March 2004).

Japan and China fight over Seabed Property

TOKYO - Current explorations of an offshore gas field in the East China Sea by both China and Japan have recently strained relations between the two powerful nations. While Japan is concerned that Chinese drilling could siphon off natural gas from Japan's territorial seabed, Beijing considers Tokyo's claim as infringing on its interests and sovereignty. China appears to believe that Tokyo feels threatened by China's enormous economic development and is trying to contain it, at least in the East China Sea.

Legally, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea allows coastal countries to regulate catch and seabed resources in an economic zone extending 200 nautical miles, or 370 kilometers, from their shores. But Beijing and Tokyo, both of which signed the convention in 1996, have not agreed on where their sea border lies. The UN says it will decide on global offshore territorial claims by May 2009. In February 2001, Japan and China only agreed to give each other two months' prior notification with regard to maritime scientific research activities in waters around the two countries. Read full article in Asia Times Online (Jul. 27, 2004)

Here is an interesting article on the history of the LOS.

Australia lodges huge seabed claim

While some individuals are making millions on selling properties on the Moon (yes, MOON), which tells a lot about the intelligence ofthe buyers, Australia has a lodged a claim over 3.4 million square kilometres of ocean seabed, an area equal to half the Australian continental landmass. The claim is for seabed areas more than 200 nautical miles from the coastline. The Australian submission has been lodged with the United Nations. Under the UN Law of the Sea, a country can claim ownership of its seabed continental shelf even though it extends beyond the 200 nautical mile limit, which is normally the extent of sovereignty.

Australia's claim, potentially one of the largest in the world, is based on 10 years of maritime surveys to map the submerged landmass. Australia's submission will be examined next year by an international body of experts, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, which makes a binding judgement. Australia is claiming the legal right to explore, exploit and conserve the seabed areas totalling 3.4 million square kilometres. Source: ABC News online

East Timor disputes Australia's claim to the Timor Sea bed to the end of Australia's continental shelf, which comes closer to the East Timor coast than Australia. East Timor argues that the border should run midway between the two countries. Jorge Teme, East Timor's ambassador in Canberra, said that because less than 400 nautical miles separates the two countries, "the principle that most applies is the median line," which he said should be the boundary.

The Australian submission to the United Nations will be examined by an international body of experts, the UN's Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, starting early next year.
Downer's spokesman said Australia's withdrawal from the tribunal in 2002 would have no impact on this process. Source: International Herald Tribune.