Canada to map Arctic seabed to boost sovereignty

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OTTAWA, Oct 17 (Reuters) Canada will map its entire Arctic sea bed as part of a plan to boost sovereignty over the remote, resource-rich region, the government said.

''As part of asserting sovereignty, our government will complete comprehensive mapping of Canada's Arctic seabed. Never before has this part of Canada's ocean floor been fully mapped,'' a government policy speech said.

''New opportunities are emerging across the Arctic, and new challenges from other shores.'' Canada has virtually no military forces in the Arctic, a fact that prompts critics to fret that other nations could muscle their way in.

The five nations which control a coastline in the Arctic -- Canada, Russia, the United States, Norway and Denmark via its ownership of Greenland -- are rushing to stake their claims to the region before a May 2009 deadline.

Ottawa said earlier this year it would build a deep sea port in the Arctic and buy special patrol vessels for the north. It said it would ''build a world-class Arctic research station'' to focus on the environment and resource development.

REUTERS CS BST0624

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