Category Archives: State Practice

CLCS: Bouvetøya outer continental shelf limits clarified

The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) has clarified the extent of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles outside Bouvet Island (Bouvetøya). The CLCS recommendation is in line with Norway’s proposal submitted in 2009 and revised in 2015. This means that the Norwegian continental shelf surrounding the island amounts to about 683,730 km2, of which 195,120 km2 is beyond 200 nautical miles. The CLCS recommendation gives Norway a basis for determining the extent of the shelf outside Bouvet Island with binding effect. The Statement by the CLCS Chair, dated 29 March 2019, may be found here.

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The continental shelf at Bouvetøya. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway.

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Cyprus: Deposit of Points Concerning the Outer Limits of EEZ and Continental Shelf

The ongoing dispute concerning the potential drilling activities of the Turkish drill ship ‘Fatih’ within the Eastern Mediterranean has triggered Cyprus to deposit with the United National Secretary General a list of geographical coordinates of points concerning the northern and north-western outer limits of the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf.

The maritime zone notification and geographical points were deposited on the 7 May 2019, as per UNCLOS, article 75(2) and article 84(2). Turkey claims the hydrocarbon exploration is within its rights under international law, while Cyprus, Greece and the EU have condemned any drilling by the vessel ‘Fatih’ as a violation of Cypriot rights. The USA refers to the area as ‘claimed’ by Cyprus and likely to raise tensions, while Egypt also raised concerns.

Cyprus Deposit to UNSG

Illustrative Map – Republic of Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Malaysia-Singapore: overlapping port claims suspended

The Governments of Malaysia and of Singapore have entered an agreement to mutually suspend the implementation of their overlapping port limits and apply their port limits in effect prior to 25 October 2018 and 6 December 2018 respectively. They furthermore agreed to not authorise and to suspend all commercial activities in the area and to not anchor government vessels in the area. The agreement became effective on April 8, 2019. According to a statement issued by representatives of both Governments, negotiations for maritime boundary delimitation in the area are expected to commence within one month following implementation of said agreement. That March 2019 joint statement may be found herehere; a more recent joint statement confirming the schedule is available here / here. The relevant Circulars of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore are here and here.

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Maritime boundaries between Singapore and Malaysia (Source: Singapore Ministry of Transport)

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Norway: Supreme Court decides on catch of snow crab on the Norwegian continental shelf

The Supreme Court of Norway has rejected the appeals of a Russian captain and a Latvian shipping company that was convicted in the Court of Appeal for having caught snow crab without a Norwegian permit. The catch took place in the fish protection zone at Svalbard, on the Norwegian continental shelf. The Supreme Court stated that the snow crab is a sedentary species within the meaning of the UNCLOS, which the coastal state of Norway, under international law, has the exclusive right to exploit. It also understood that the Svalbard Treaty does not prevent penalising the person who catches without permission and that this applies regardless of nationality. The verdict of 14 February 2019 may be found here (in Norwegian).

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Argentina: MPA Yaganes and Namuncurá approved

The Senate of Argentina has approved the creation of two new Marine Protected Areas (MPA), Yaganes and Namuncurá-Banco Burdwood II. These areas are located in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Argentina. Yaganes is approximately 69 thousand km2, while Namuncurá – Banco Burdwood II covers more than 32 thousand km2. The respective legal text (Ley 27490), published 17 December 2018, can be found here (Spanish). The press releases from the Government of Argentina may be found here (Spanish) and here (Spanish). More information about these areas may be found here.

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Location of the National Marine Park of Yaganes and the National Marine Reserves of Namuncurá – Banco Burdwood II. Source: Wildlife Conservation Society

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Singapore: UNCLOS Article 298 Declaration submitted

The Singapore Government on 12 December 2018 filed a declaration under Article 298(1)(a) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This declaration means that other States Parties to UNCLOS cannot unilaterally commence third party arbitration or adjudication against Singapore in respect of maritime boundary disputes. Singapore likewise cannot unilaterally commence third party arbitration or adjudication against other States Parties for such disputes. A statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore on the matter may be found here.

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Guinea Bissau-EU: Sustainable Fishing Partnership Agreement signed

The European Union and Guinea-Bissau have signed a new Sustainable Fishing Partnership Agreement (SFPA) protocol. This protocol will allow the EU fleet to fish in Guinea Bissau waters for a duration of 5 years. The protocol foresees the transition from the current system based on vessel capacity to a system based on catch limits (TAC), applicable for the last three years of the agreement. The protocol also includes improved monitoring, thanks to the introduction of an Electronic Reporting System (ERS), which will become mandatory from the third year on. More information is available here. The protocol agreed to in 2011 may be found here.

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