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New Zealand’s Continental Shelf

UNCLOS map

Why do we need to know the boundary of our continental shelf?

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), maritime nations such as New Zealand manage a 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

This awards our nation economic rights to water-column resources including deep-sea fisheries, and seafloor and sub-seafloor resources, such as oil, gas and metallic minerals.

New Zealand, with the help of GNS Science NIWA, LINZ and MFAT, has recently successfully extended our maritime boundary beyond the EEZ, by showing that our continental shelf extends beyond 200 nautical miles from the coastline.

New Zealand’s EEZ and continental shelf cover an area greater than Europe and is one of the largest in the world. For more information on the area of the territorial waters download this pdf.

Check out our computer simulated flyby over Zealandia here

Continental shelf cross section