Palau has named sixty-three (63) undersea mounts and basins on the Palau-Kyushu Ridge, the singular underwater ridge that connects Palau to Japan. These 63 mounts occur outside Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone, north of Palau’s EEZ.
Palau archipelago is part of the extended underwater ridge that connects directly with Japan, known as Palau-Kyushu Ridge. Claiming the continental shelf that extends outside of its EEZ, Palau named the undersea mounts and valleys along the sea floor on and adjacent to the Palau-Kyushu Ridge.
The names include Belias Seamount, Oldiais Seamount, Ongeim’l Tketau Basin, Tbekuulii Basin, Ongedechuul Seamount, Ngetelngal Peak, Chelbesoi Basin, Ngelitel Seamount, Chetiruir Seamount, Ngertebechel Seamount, Cheldoech Seamount and more.
Naming the underwater features is a necessary part of the application process for extending the country’s continental shelf.
This particular area of the ocean has been frequented by Chinese Research vessels in the last four years. China has also named some of the seamounts in this area.
“We think this is an effort on the part of China to contest our claim over this continental shelf,” stated Minister Charles Obichang, a Palau’s Boundary Commission member.
The Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC) allows a State to conduct economic activities for a distance of 200 nautical miles from the baseline, or the continental margin where it extends beyond 200 nautical miles.
The progress of Palau’s Boundary Commission was showcased during the 2023 World Oceans Month, displaying the ongoing efforts to demarcate and expand Palau’s boundaries with our adjacent neighbors.