UN experts analyse Portugal’s ‘takeover bid’ for the sea

UN experts analyse Portugal’s ‘takeover bid’ for the sea

UN scientists and technicians are finally analysing Portugal’s ‘takeover bid’ for almost two million square kms of sea.

Last year, minister for foreign affairs Augusto Santos Silva said he was “confident” of success in the bid to increase this country’s continental platform to a whopping 3.9 million sq kms (click here).

The plan is very much tied to ‘the Blue Economy’ – an expression widely used to encompass the enormous potential ‘wealth’ (for Portugal) that would come from controlling vast areas of sea.

Explain reports, the ocean floor around the Azores, for example, has “an enormous wealth potential in terms of mineral resources, from gold to copper, manganese, cobalt, platinum and zinc”.

This is a massively contentious subject in that warnings have already been sounded over the consequences of exploiting the ocean bed (click here).

Movements have already started rallying to fight plans for ‘deep sea mining’ off the Azores (click here).

But now Diário de Notícias says that it’s not even certain that Portugal will get the extension to its continental platform that it wants.

Questions from the UN’s panel of experts – convening this week in New York – “could reduce the extension of proposed limits and cost millions of additional euros in new campaigns for data collection”, says the paper.

One of the champions of Portugal’s ambitious bid for the sea is the Minister of the Sea herself, Ana Paula Vitorino.

Vitorino did not respond to DN’s questions, despite the fact that they were put to her “over a week and a half ago”, wrote the paper’s Manuel Carlos Freire on Saturday.

The ‘questions’ essentially lie in how Portugal has calculated its ‘sea grab’.

Explains Freire, points of reference have been used “that are not recognised by the international community”.

If they require changing, it will almost certainly mean less area can be claimed by Portugal – and even then other nations, like Spain and Morocco , will have “direct interests” that will need to be addressed.

Says DN’s report, this is particularly because “even non-coastal States have the right to exploit and take advantage of natural resources existing in the soil and marine subsoil beyond the outer limits of continental platforms of coastal countries…”

All in all, the bid that looked so ‘bold and certain’ even a year ago may be running into choppy waters.

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