[JURIST] The five states that border the Arctic - Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the US - will meet in Greenland Wednesday to discuss plans to divide harvesting rights [press release] to resources and minerals on the Arctic seabed. Under the Law of the Sea Treaty [text], a country has exclusive harvesting rights to a zone extending 200 nautical miles from its shore, but when a continental shelf extends farther a nation may claim up to 350 miles from the baseline or 100 miles from the 2,500 meter depth. Questions about Arctic sea oil and gas rights have become more pressing lately, as global warming estimates predict that previously unattainable ice-locked resources will be within reach by mid-century. Reuters has more.
Environmental organizations have criticized efforts to expand oil drilling [WWF report] into the Arctic Sea, calling for increased research into energy conservation and renewable resources instead. Critics have also said that offshore development will require massive amounts of infrastructure that could impact local wildlife.