Technical University of Denmark: DTU contributes to historic sea border agreement

A 3,962 km maritime boundary between Canada and the Kingdom of Denmark has been determined with advice and knowledge from DTU Space.
DTU was present at the ceremony in the Canadian capital Ottawa on Tuesday, when government representatives from Denmark, Greenland and Canada signed a historic agreement on the world’s longest maritime boundary.

The new agreement establishes the overall maritime boundary between Canada and the Kingdom of Denmark from the Lincoln Sea north of Greenland to the Labrador Sea southwest of Greenland. The boundary extends over a total of 3,962 kilometers making it the world’s longest maritime border.

The boundary agreement also covers a land border on Hans Island (Tartupaluk) that is located in the waters in question. The Kingdom of Denmark and Canada have now divided Hans Island in two almost equal halves.

“DTU has been involved since the work on the agreement started back in 2011. We have provided our extensive expertise in geodesy, concluding border agreements and interpretation of the Law of the Sea Convention,” says senior consultant Niels Andersen from DTU Space at The Technical University of Denmark.

Mr. Andersen has been part of the working group with members from Denmark, Greenland and Canada, which has now found a solution to solve the boundary issues in the waters between Canada and Greenland.

The agreement is the culmination of many years of preparatory work, to which DTU has contributed on the basis of many years of experience in the field of geodesy and land delimitation processes.

Both with advice on technology and geodesy in relation to the reference systems that have formed the basis for determining precise coordinates for boundaries in the large area. As well as on the application and interpretation of the principles of demarcation in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS.

A historic deal
It is a unique and historic agreement, which has been reached in complete peace and tolerance between the involved parties, according to Niels Andersen, who was DTU’s representative at the signing ceremony Tuesday.

“It is a three-in-one solution; A joint boundary has been established between two nations, Canada and the Kingdom of Denmark, which follows up on an agreement from 1973. In addition, the problem of who has the right to a disputed land area has been resolved by dividing Hans Island. In addition, we have been able to enter into an agreement on a delimitation outside the usual 200 nautical mile limit and thus agreed on a delimitation in the Labrador Sea,” he says.

“It is an agreement that will be noticed internationally, because we have been able to peacefully solve a very complex issue around land and sea boundaries covering a very large distance. It is an achievement we can be proud of.”

A broad collaboration
In the Kingdom of Denmark, work on the new agreement has been led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Greenland Government in collaboration with SDFE, the Danish Geodata Agency, GEUS and DTU Space.

Previously DTU Space has contributed to solving other sea boundary issues. Recently for example by assisting to reach a boundary agreement between Denmark and Poland in the Baltic Sea around Bornholm.

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