Continental Shelf

A continental shelf is a term that refers to the ledges that protrude from the continental land mass into the ocean. This is enveloped with a comparatively shallow zone of water (approximately 150-200 meters deep).

Shelf seas occupy about 7% of the area of the world’s oceans but their economic importance is significantly greater.

(1) A continental shelf is the edge of a continent that lies under the ocean.

(2) A continental shelf extends from the coastline of a continent to a drop-off point called the shelf break. From the break, the shelf descends toward the deep ocean floor in what is called the continental slope.

(3) The continental shelf is an important maritime zone, one that holds many resources and vital habitats for marine life. The majority of the world’s continental shelf is unknown and unmapped.

 Article 1 of the Convention on the Continental Shelf, 1958 defined the shelf based on its exploitability instead of depending upon the conventional geological definition, which referred to the seabed and subsoil of the submarine zones next to the coast but not within the territorial sea that extends to a depth of 200 meters or beyond that limit to where the depth of the superjacent waters admits of the exploitation of the natural resources of the said areas.

 The continental shelf, in its geological sense, is very un-equally distributed around the continent. The importance of the continental shelf and the necessity for a special legal regime applicable to it, did not, however, become apparent until the question of the nature and extent of the coastal state’s rights to explore and exploit the natural resources of the continental shelf was given a new urgency by the discovery in the subsoil of the sea-bed of a mineral source of wealth, namely petroleum. Furthermore, through advances in engineering and scientific research, the submarine oil bearing strata became capable of exploitation and exploration by means of devices operating from the sea-bed of the high seas. As the importance of continental shelf was of national importance in arena of legal, geographical, social and economical, it was included in the international law.

Indian position on continental shelf has been made clear under Section 6 of the Maritime Zones Act of 1976.Part 1 of the section lays down that, “the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas adjacent to the coast but outside the area of the territorial sea, to a depth of 200 meters, or, beyond that limit, to where the depth of the superjacent waters admits of the exploitation of the natural resources of the said areas”. The Act also lay down under section 6, Para 3 that “the Union has:

  1. Sovereign rights for exploration, exploitation , conservation, and management of all resources;
  2. Exclusive rights and jurisdiction for the construction, maintenance or operation of artificial Islands, off-shore terminals, installations and other structures and devices necessary for the continental shelf or for convenience of shipping or for any other purpose.
  3. Exclusive jurisdiction to authorize, regulate and control scientific research
  4. Exclusive jurisdiction to preserve and protect the marine environment and to prevent and control marine pollution”.



Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.


Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at

In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: