This is a big deal, now, and into the future. Consider the seas and oceans really represent uncharted territory. I mean, they have been charted, mapped, but only enough to help tell fisherpeople, “Hey, this is your fishing ground; stay away from over there, because that belongs to us.” The resources contained within these water bodies have hardly been studied, let alone the seafloor.
Last summer (2007), the Russians made big news regarding their sub-sea surface efforts, setting a plaque on the seafloor, much like the astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin on the moon, as the authors stated in this article. The Russians are being much more progressive about their research. Their ships capable of caring out such research outnumber the U.S. flotilla of ships by about 3 to 1 (they have around 17 to the approximately 3 that used by the United States; I realized I need a reference here, too).
As the search for new energy sources continues to heat up (yes, a pun), the United States needs to develop a more well-defined energy policy and energy goals. We need to be more pro-active in these efforts, listen less to lobbyists, and more to the scientists and researchers who study this issues.
But, back to the real path here. The U.S. may have some issues in determining new boundaries. These issues will pale in comparison to the issues faced by Southeast Asian and Pacific Island nations. These countries already have issues with overlapping boundaries. Cartographic and mapping research will allow them to effectively map seafloor structures, eliminate ‘mystery’ and allow for better decisions.