Challenges of the Changing Arctic: Continental Shelf, Navigation, and Fisheries

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



Ocean Law and Policy, Arctic Ocean Coastal States, Arctic Continental Shelf, Arctic Shipping, Fisheries, UNCLOS, Canada


This is yet another book in a series produced by the Center for Oceans Law and Policy (COLP) at the University of Virginia Law School and once again draws on papers given at a conference, this time the 38th Annual Conference held in Bergen, Norway, 25–27 June 2014. The volume focuses on three Arctic Ocean governance themes and provides “must read” chapters on the topics of continental shelf, navigation, and fisheries. The first two parts of the book are devoted to Arctic continental shelf issues. Part I is committed to reviewing law and policy approaches and questions surrounding extended continental shelf determinations by the five Arctic Ocean coastal States. Michael Byers in Chapter 4 reviews the law and politics facing Canada, Denmark, and Russia in their assertion of rights over the Lomonosov Ridge. He highlights the possible future need to negotiate boundaries where there are overlapping claims and opines that the principle of equidistance would likely be used to delimit the seabed rights between Canada and Denmark, which would situate the North Pole on the Danish side. In Chapter 5, Alex Oude Elferink reviews the present state of national extended shelf claims in the Arctic and questions whether the usual equidistance/relevant circumstances methodology to delimit the continental shelf within 200 nautical miles should be applied to areas beyond. He suggests an alternative approach which is left somewhat impressionistic but starts with giving priority attention to overlapping natural prolongations and the relevant coasts of the contending parties.