Is mapping the North Pole seabed worth the time and money?

An international law professor says Canada is wasting time and money by sending two icebreakers to the North Pole.

Arctic experts differ on whether sending icebreakers there is worth the time and money

The CCGS Terry Fox and the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent arrived at the North Pole on Aug. 27. Arctic experts differ on whether sending them there is worth the time and money. (DFO Newfoundland and Labrador/Twitter)

An international law professor says Canada is wasting time and money by sending two icebreakers to the North Pole.

Michael Byers says under international law Canada will not be able to claim the Pole.

"There is no plausible way in which Canada could claim the North Pole and that is why this mapping exercise at the North Pole by Canada is so perplexing. It is a waste of millions of dollars and a waste of valuable ship time," says Byers, who holds a Canada Research Chair in global politics and international law at the University of British Columbia.

The CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent and the CCGS Terry Fox arrived at the North Pole Wednesday night. Crews on the ships are mapping that area of the Arctic Ocean seabed and gathering scientific data in support of Canada's territorial claim under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Some Arctic observers, including Rob Huebert at the University of Calgary, say it's worth the effort.

"The Arctic always has this ability to confound us and I do not think for a moment that it is in Canadian interest to simply assume that there is nothing without having properly looked there in the first place," says Huebert.

The icebreakers will spend several weeks mapping the area near the North Pole. They will also travel to the eastern side of the Lomonosov Ridge, near Ellesmere Island.

Huebert says two Russian icebreakers are also at the Pole, doing the same type of mapping work for Russia.

Russia currently has claims to the North Pole. 

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced in December that Canada's claim submitted to the United Nations would include the North Pole


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