13 Oct 2015

New Caledonia seeks shelf control

2:18 pm on 13 October 2015

A leading New Caledonian politician, Philippe Gomes, has called on France to assign to the territory the right to access the continental shelf.

Philippe Gomes

Philippe Gomes Photo: AFP

Mr Gomes made the call after France last month extended the continental shelf off several of its overseas territories, including New Caledonia, by a total of half a million square kilometres.

Mr Gomes, who is a member of the French National Assembly, says the Assembly should make the change by modifying the organic law, which already gives the territory control over its Exclusive Economic Zone.

The shelf extension for New Caledonia applies to about 80,000 square kilometres towards Australia's Lord Howe island, an area believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits.

Two years ago, the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council urged the government to secure resources in the seabed off France's overseas territories.

In a report, the Council said the Law of the Sea allowed for France to lay claim to an additional two million square kilometres, half of which are in French Polynesia.