Sea-Bed Wealth
For Private Profit or Peoples' Development. Vol. IV, No. 7

Publisher:  Latin American Working Group, Canada
Year Published:  1977  
Pages:  16pp  
Inactive Serial

Resource Type:  Serial Publication (Periodical)
Cx Number:  CX381

This newsletter looks at the implications of the recent and growing interest of transnational corporations and national governments in developing the sea's wealth.

Abstract:  This newsletter looks at the implications of the recent and growing interest of transnational corporations and national governments in developing the sea's wealth. Besides fish and oil, there are trillions of dollars worth of potato-shaped nodules which contain manganese, nickel, copper and cobalt. Third world and landlocked states are insisting that they not be deprived of a just share of the worlds wealth. In addition, miners throughout the world are concerned since the sea's wealth may well mean the end of their jobs and disintegration of their communities. Such unrestricted development on the seas could bring a premature end to mining in Sudbury, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan for instance.
The arbitrator of this rivalry is the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), a gathering of 150 nations which are trying to apply the principle that Maritime resources should be treated as a common heritage. At a UNCLOS conference in 1976, it was proposed that an International Seabed Authority (ISA) should create a mining operation known as The Enterprise. The developing countries argued that The Enterprise should have exclusive rights to seabed mining. The U.S. whose position reflects U.S. business interests, didn't want the Enterprise to have any power to refuse licenses to private operators. Talks stalled here with free enterprise against the common heritage concept.
Canada's position is judged as opportunistic. Canada was among the first to pressure for an agreement giving coastal states the right to manage living resources of the sea in the 200 miles adjacent to their shorelines. Developing states wanted UNCLOS to establish shore authority that would share out surplus catch. Canada has also been one of the most zealous promoters of a 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone and the right to the edge of its continental shelf, which extends 600 miles off the east coast. Developing countries argue that this gives rich coastal states over a third of the ocean.
The 200 mile limit sounds good for fishermen but their hopes are simultaneously being dashed by other corporate plans. Big fish processing companies are already forcing out smaller fishermen by entering into joint ventures with foreign fishing fleets operating within Canadian waters. Cheap labour aboard foreign ships allows them to sell more cheaply to Canadian processors like National Sea Products, which is a subsidiary of G.B. Weston.

Periodical profile published 1977

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