The Bolsonaro Administration wants to increase by 2.1 million square kilometers — equivalent to the area of Greenland — the size of the national territory in the Atlantic Ocean, the so-called jurisdictional waters. Brazil’s request, which would expand Blue Amazon by 58%, was presented in December to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Brazil is not the only country that is seeking to secure its maritime wealth. Today, according to Admiral Sergio Guida, secretary of Interministerial Commission on Resources for the Sea, 30% of the world’s oceans are already “territorialized”, that is, under government control.
If the dispute is accepted, the country will be entitled to navigation and exploration of “soil” and subsoil in this area, which goes beyond the exclusive economic zone, the 200 nautical mile range of the Brazilian coast. “It is a wealth that we need to ensure for the next generations,” Admiral Guida told Estadao newspaper. According to him, the UN commission has already signaled that it must endorse at least part of the expansion. The decision comes out in August. To collect new data that can boost demand, studies continued earlier this year, under Jair Bolsonaro’s government.
This is not the first time that Brazil has claimed the dominance of a larger Atlantic strip. The country would not be entitled to pre-salt exploration, according to the admiral, had the studies of the Brazilian continental shelf, approved by the same UN commission, that entitled the region had not been carried out. In addition to the pre-salt, Guida said that the Atlantic Ocean holds a “true treasure” in minerals and scarce chemical elements on the earth’s surface.
Brazil began the survey of the extended continental shelf in 2004. The country was the second in the world to request the expansion of the continental shelf – the first was Russia in 2001. In 2008, the UN responded to the Brazilian plea, agreeing with the extension of 750,000 square kilometers of area for exploration, but rejected another 190,000 square kilometers, making recommendations for further studies.
Surveys continued and the new proposal presented by Brazil at the end of last year is divided into three areas, totaling the claimed 2.1 million square kilometers. The first is called “southern submission,” with 170,000 square kilometers. The second, “western/southern”, total 1.6 million square kilometers – including the Rio Grande Elevation, considered a mineral reserve in the ocean. The third is the “equatorial submission” (390 thousand square kilometers).
An initial UN analysis was favorable to Brazil. With this first acceptance, no other country can claim this area until commission setting limits hit the hammer.
During the research, areas of economic interest in mineral exploration were identified, with the occurrence of cobalt, nickel, manganese, phosphate, platinum and even minerals used by the high-tech industry technology such as rare earth.
It is expected that the UN evaluation of all new areas will take at least four years. Until then, the studies continue. “The Bandeirantes did the work that enabled Brazil to grow to the west. Now we have some Bandeirantes who, scientifically, within the law, have done work to make Brazil grow east, “said Admiral Guida.
At the Elevation of Rio Grande, scientific research projects have been carried out for years by English, Americans, and Germans. There are EU initiatives for an environmental management plan in that area. However, with the expansion of the Brazilian continental shelf in the area, the preference is of the Country over the region.