India’s Strategic Bid for Oceanic Resources

India’s Strategic Bid for Oceanic Resources

India recently applied to the International Seabed Authority (ISBA) in Jamaica for exploration rights in the Indian Ocean seabed. This move, particularly regarding the Afanasy Nikitin Seamount (AN Seamount), raises geopolitical and resource exploitation concerns.

The Afanasy Nikitin Seamount (AN Seamount):

  • The AN Seamount is a significant geological feature in the Central Indian Basin, located approximately 3,000 km from India’s coast.
  • It spans 400 km in length and 150 km in width, rising from an oceanic depth of 4,800 meters to about 1,200 meters.
  • Surveys indicate rich deposits of cobalt, nickel, manganese, and copper within the region.

Legal Framework and Exploration Rights:

  • Exploration rights in open ocean areas are regulated by the ISBA, established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • Countries must apply for exploration licenses from the ISBA before engaging in any extraction activities.
  • The ISBA governs areas beyond national jurisdictions, known as the high seas, which constitute around 60% of the world’s oceans.

Continental Shelf Claims:

  • Countries can claim exclusive rights over resources up to 200 nautical miles from their coastlines and extend these rights by providing scientific evidence to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
  • Sri Lanka, utilizing UNCLOS provisions, has claimed rights up to 500 nautical miles in the Bay of Bengal.
  • India has applied for exploration rights beyond its continental shelf, prompted by perceived Chinese presence in the region.

India’s Application and Challenges:

  • India applied for exploration rights concerning the AN Seamount and the Carlsberg Ridge in the Central Indian Ocean.
  • The ISBA has sought clarification from India regarding overlapping claims with Sri Lanka.
  • A final decision on India’s applications is expected later this year.

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ):

  1. What organization regulates exploration rights in open ocean areas?
    • A) United Nations
    • B) International Seabed Authority (ISBA)
    • C) International Maritime Organization
    • D) World Trade Organization
    • Answer: B) International Seabed Authority (ISBA)
  2. Which country has claimed rights up to 500 nautical miles in the Bay of Bengal?
    • A) India
    • B) China
    • C) Sri Lanka
    • D) Indonesia
    • Answer: C) Sri Lanka
  3. What are the primary resources found in the AN Seamount region?
    • A) Oil and natural gas
    • B) Cobalt, nickel, manganese, and copper
    • C) Gold and silver
    • D) Rare earth elements
    • Answer: B) Cobalt, nickel, manganese, and copper