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Geography Lesson

December 07, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is to hire a British survey company to re-draw the island's continental shelf boundary, so that the country can claim additional rights to the seabed and any natural resources it holds.

The government said Thursday that it had approved the appointment of Geophysical survey company Geotechnical Engineering and Marine Surveys (GEMS) of the UK, for the two month study, costing 5.2 million dollars.

The continental shelf is the extension of continents into the ocean. Sri Lanka's continental shelf around the North and North Western coasts is broader than the rest of the island.

"We are entitled to claim additional sea bed rights under the United Nations convention on the Law of the Sea and we need to collect data to support our claim," N P Wijayananda, Project Director, told LBO.

Sri Lanka's continental shelf as well as its Exclusive Economic Zone, extends for up to 200 nautical miles, within which the country can exploit resources in the water, sea bed and under the seabed where petroleum and other resources are found.

Sri Lanka expects that its boundaries could extend as far as 700 nautical miles from the farthest point at the Southern end of the island, Wijayana

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