Category Archives: State Practice

UK: consultation on the Third Tranche of Marine Conservation Zones launched

The government of the United Kingdom has launched (8 June 2018) a consultation seeking views on plans to designate 41 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) around the UK and views on proposed new features to be added to 12 existing MCZs. The new sites will reach right the way across England’s coastline – from the South West to Berwick on the Scottish border, with two sites in Northern Irish offshore waters. No new activities deemed damaging will be allowed to take place in these areas. Existing harmful activities will be minimised or stopped to allow important habitats to be restored over time. The proposed network will cover approximately 11,700 km2, bringing the total area of protection to over 32,000 square km. The consultation, which terminates on 20 July 2018, is held here. More information is found here.

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ICJ: Revision and Interpretation requests for Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh case discontinued

In letters dated 29 May 2018, the ICJ informed Malaysia and Singapore that the Court had placed on record the discontinuance, by agreement of the Parties, two interrelated cases initiated by Malaysia in 2017. This concerns both, the Application for revision of the Judgment of 23 May 2008 in the case concerning Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge (Malaysia/Singapore) (Malaysia v. Singapore), and the Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 23 May 2008 in the case concerning Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge (Malaysia/Singapore) (Malaysia v. Singapore).

For more information, see the press statements of the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chair of Singapore’s Pedra Branca International Court of Justice Committee.

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Arctic Council: Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation enters into force

The Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation has entered into force on 23 May 2018. This legally binding agreement was signed last year by the eight members of the Arctic Council. The purpose of this agreement is “to increase effectiveness and efficiency in the development of scientific knowledge about the Arctic”, namely by facilitating access to “civilian research infrastructure and facilities and logistical services”, to the “Identified Geographic Areas” and to “scientific information”. The document calls for each party to designate a “competent national authority” as a point of contact to facilitate communication between and among parties. The text of the agreement may be found here. More information about the signature may be found here (USA), here (Canada) and here (Russian Federation).

Date: 02/27/2018 Description: Map of area covered by the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation - State Dept Image

The “Identified Geographic Areas” of the Agreement. Source: USA Department of State.

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EU: Commission proposes directive on single-use plastic products and fishing gear

The European Commission published its Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment, 28 May 2018. The directive would apply to single-use plastic products listed in the Annex and to fishing gear containing plastic (art. 2). In general, see pp. 4-5 and 8 for the position of the proposal within wider fisheries, plastic marine litter, marine pollution and oceans governance law and policy of the EU. Preamble, para. 4 addresses the multilateral framework.

For more information, see the press release and further information on fishing gear.

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Cape Verde: regime for the protection and conservation of marine turtles enters into force

The special legal regime for the protection and conservation of marine turtles has entered into force on 22 May 2018. It aims to provide legal protection to any turtle that frequents the maritime zones under the jurisdiction of Cape Verde, as well as derived products. This regime establishes, among other “crimes against the marine turtles” (Art. 20), that penalties shall apply to the consumption of meat, eggs or any remains or parts of marine turtle. The law (Decreto-Legislativo n.º 1/2018), may be found here (in Portuguese).

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Japan: Third Basic Plan on Ocean Policy approved

The Government of Japan has approved (15 May 2018) a new Basic Plan on Ocean Policy. Since its first adoption in 2008 (English version here), the ocean policy has been reviewed every five years. In this third stage of the document, reference is made for the first time to an Arctic policy and targets are defined for Japan to become “a new oceanic state”. The “Maritime Domain Awareness” capacity is strengthened and this item receives an independent treatment. In the item “Comprehensive Maritime Security”, the document refers to the strengthening of the “Coast Guard System”. The document also highlights other goals, such as methane hydrate development, the establishment of rules on the use of maritime zones and the improvement of the accuracy of resource evaluation. The official announcement of the approval of this document may be found here (video in Japanese). All the relevant documents of the approval process are here (in Japanese). The outline of the plan is here (in English).

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EU: Commission approves Portuguese tonnage tax and seafarer scheme

The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules a Portuguese tonnage tax scheme. Under this scheme, maritime transport companies will pay taxes on the basis of the net tonnage (i.e. the size of the shipping fleet) operated in maritime transport activities rather than on the basis of their taxable profits. In addition, for certain more environmentally-friendly ships, companies can achieve an additional reduction of 10% to 20% of the tax base under the tonnage tax scheme. Moreover, a seafarer scheme exempts seafarers employed on vessels that are eligible under the tonnage tax scheme from paying personal income tax. It also allows them to pay reduced rates of contribution for social insurance. Both the tonnage tax and seafarer schemes will remain in force for ten years. More information is available here. The proposal of the scheme (Proposta de Lei 111/XIII) may be found here (in Portuguese).

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