New UN resolution allows Ireland to extend its territorial waters
IRELAND has become one of the first countries to be allowed extend the boundaries of its territorial waters.
The State has received final and binding recommendations from the United Nations' Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf that it can increase its continental shelf off the south-west coast beyond the standard 200 nautical mile limit.
The decision means that the seabed, which is believed to be rich in minerals and hydrocarbons, can now be explored.
"I am very proud that Ireland has become one of the first countries in the world to successfully complete the process leading to international recognition of its right to extend its continental shelf," said foreign affairs minister Dermot Ahern.
"This is especially fitting given the leading role that Ireland played in the 10 years of negotiation that led to the Law of the Sea Convention, in particular in relation to the legal regime governing the rights of coastal states on the continental shelf."
Under provisions set down by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, all coastal states are permitted to claim a shelf up to 200 miles in breadth, subject to the exercise of the same rights by their neighbours.