Despite claims of UNCLOS opponents, resource exploitation in the extended continental shelf is legally impossible outside of UNCLOS
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UNCLOS opponents argue, almost sophomorically, that the United States already enjoys and exercises full jurisdiction and control over its ECS and thus does not need the approval of an international bureaucratic body such as the CLCS.73 The authority for this position derives primarily from a reliance on customary international law, US domestic law, and bilateral maritime delimitation treaties the United States has entered into.74 Admittedly, this argument is doctrinally difficult to overcome if one simply chooses to rely on a strong US Navy to project power and assert US interests. However, in spite of a misguided reliance on “hard power”,75 a misunderstanding of customary international law,” and the misapplication of article 76; the practical considerations put forth by US industry make resource exploitation in the US ECS-outside of the UNCLOS framework—a nearly unattainable objective.
The United States cannot currently participate in the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, which oversees ocean delineation on the outer limits of the extended continental shelf (outer continental shelf). Even though it is collecting scientific evidence to support eventual claims off its Atlantic, Gulf, and Alaskan coasts, the United States, without becoming party to the convention, has no standing in the CLCS.