Convention on the Continental Shelf
Done at Geneva on 29 April 1958
The States Parties to this Convention Have agreed as follows:
Article 1 For the purpose of these articles, the term “continental shelf” is used as referring (a) to 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
metres or, beyond that limit, to where the depth of the superjacent waters admits of the exploitation of the natural
resources of the said areas; (b) to the seabed and subsoil of similar submarine areas adjacent to the coasts of
Article 2 1. The coastal State exercises over the continental shelf sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring it
and exploiting its natural resources.
2. The rights referred to in paragraph 1 of this article are exclusive in the sense that if the coastal State
does not explore the continental shelf or exploit its natural resources, no one may undertake these activities, or
make a claim to the continental shelf, without the express consent of the coastal State.
3. The rights of the coastal State over the continental shelf do not depend on occupation, effective or
notional, or on any express proclamation.
4. The natural resources referred to in these articles consist of the mineral and other non-living resources
of the seabed and subsoil together with living organisms belonging to sedentary species, that is to say, organisms
which, at the harvestable stage, either are immobile on or under the seabed or are unable to move except in
constant physical contact with the seabed or the subsoil.
Article 3 The rights of the coastal State over the continental shelf do not affect the legal status of the superjacent
waters as high seas, or that of the airspace above those waters.
Article 4 Subject to its right to take reasonable measures for the exploration of the continental shelf and the
exploitation of its natural resources, the coastal State may not impede the laying or maintenance of submarine
cables or pipelines on the continental shelf.
Article 5 1. The exploration of the continental shelf and the exploitation of its natural resources must not result in
any unjustifiable interference with navigation, fishing or the conservation of the living resources of the sea, nor
result in any interference with fundamental oceanographic or other scientific research carried out with the
intention of open publication.
2. Subject to the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 6 of this article, the coastal State is entitled to construct
and maintain or operate on the continental shelf installations and other devices necessary for its exploration and
the exploitation of its natural resources, and to establish safety zones around such installations and devices and to
take in those zones measures necessary for their protection.
3. The safety zones referred to in paragraph 2 of this article may extend to a distance of 500 metres around
the installations and other devices which have been erected, measured from each point of their outer edge. Ships
of all nationalities must respect these safety zones.
4. Such installations and devices, though under the jurisdiction of the coastal State, do not possess the
status of islands. They have no territorial sea of their own, and their presence does not affect the delimitation of
the territorial sea of the coastal State.
5. Due notice must be given of the construction of any such installations, and permanent means for giving
warning of their presence must be maintained. Any installations which are abandoned or disused must be entirely
6. Neither the installations or devices, nor the safety zones around them, may be established where
interference may be caused to the use of recognized sea lanes essential to international navigation.
7. The coastal State is obliged to undertake, in the safety zones, all appropriate measures for the protection
of the living resources of the sea from harmful agents.
8. The consent of the coastal State shall be obtained in respect of any research concerning the continental
shelf and undertaken there. Nevertheless, the coastal State shall not normally withhold its consent if the request is
submitted by a qualified institution with a view to purely scientific research into the physical or biological
characteristics of the continental shelf, subject to the proviso that the coastal State shall have the right, if it so
desires, to participate or to be represented in the research, and that in any event the results shall be published.