The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has delivered its judgment in Case C-266/16 (The Queen, on the application of Western Sahara Campaign UK v Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). It has decided that if the territory of Western Sahara were to be included within the scope of the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement, that would be contrary to certain rules of general international law that are applicable in relations between the EU and Morocco, inter alia the principle of self-determination. It has also held that, taking account of the fact that the territory of Western Sahara does not form part of the territory of Morocco, the waters adjacent to the territory of Western Sahara are not part of the Moroccan fishing zone referred to in that Agreement. The judgement may be found here. The opinion of advocate general Wathelet is available here.
European Commission’s six charts showing the extent of the fishing zones, used in the Opinion of the Advocate General Wathelet, delivered on 10 January 2018.
In respect of the Dispute Concerning Coastal State Rights in the Black Sea, Sea of Azov, and Kerch Strait (Ukraine v. the Russian Federation), Ukraine has filed its Memorial, 19 February 2018, to the Arbitral Tribunal Constituted under UNCLOS, Annex VII.
For more information see the Statement of Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry here, and PCA Case No. 2017-06 page here.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I/A Court H.R.) has issued an Advisory Opinion (OC-23/17) in the case “The Environment and Human Rights” on state obligations in relation to the environment, in the context of the protection and guarantee of the rights to life and to personal integrity. This Avisory Opinion was requested by Colombia with respect to the environmental risks caused by the construction, maintenance and expansion of canals for maritime navigation in the Caribbean region. The I/A Court H.R. declared that “the degradation of the environment may cause irreparable damages to human beings, a reason why a sound environment is a fundamental right for the existence of humankind”. The award (in Spanish) may be found here and a summary (also in Spanish) is available here.
The International Court of Justice delivered its Judgment in the joined cases concerning Maritime Delimitation in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua) and Land Boundary in the Northern Part of Isla Portillos (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua). The first case was presented on 25 February 2014 and concerned the “establishment of single maritime boundaries between the two States in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, respectively, delimiting all the maritime areas appertaining to each of them, in accordance with the applicable rules and principles of international law”. In the Judgment, the Court determined the course of the single maritime boundaries between Costa Rica and Nicaragua in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean (see image below). The text of the Judgment may be found here. Costa Rica’s official statement (in Spanish) summing up the consequences of this decision may be found here.
Sketch-map No. 13: Course of the maritime boundary (available here)
A master of a coastal trading vessel was convicted and fined in Australia’s Cairns Magistrates Court for being in charge of a ship that entered a shipping exclusion area in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The master pleaded guilty to entering an exclusion zone near the Turtle Group of Islands, 28km northwest of Cape Flattery, in November 2015. Under the Marine Park legislation, ships must only travel in designated shipping areas or general use zones to protect the marine environment, and commercial ships are monitored for their compliance. More information about this case may be found here.
Dated the 27 November 2017, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court acquitted the 35 person aboard the M/V Seaman Guard Ohio, arrested four years ago for offences under the 1959 Arms Act. Of interest to law of the sea scholars, the case touched upon the drawing of baselines, innocent passage, and the stopping and anchoring rendered necessary by force majeure or distress (UNCLOS, art. 18(2)).
A copy of the judgement is available here.