Category Archives: State Practice

USA: federal ballast water discharge standards adopted in California

California State Lands Commission adopted regulatory amendments that will implement the federal ballast water discharge standards of the United States of America (USA) for vessels arriving at California ports. These changes will become effective on 1 January 2022.

The State rules apply to vessels over 300GT that are capable of carrying ballast water. The ballast water management requirements address vessels arriving in California Waters from a port or place outside the Pacific Coast Region and vessels arriving in California Waters from a port or place within the Pacific Coast Region, with ballast water from the Pacific Coast Region. The Pacific Coast Region (PCR) comprises the waters within 200nm of land on the Pacific Coast of North America east of 154°W longitude and north of 25°N latitude, excluding the Gulf of California.

The Commission’s press release dated 15 October 2021 is here. A brochure from the Commission’s Marine Invasive Species Program (MISP) with a summary of the regulatory changes is available here. A commentary published by marine insurance company North P&I on these measures is available here.

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Brazil: immunity of Germany waived in case of fishing boat attacked by submarine in 1943

The Supreme Federal Court (STF) of Brazil upheld the appeal of family members of a fisherman who want the Federal Republic of Germany to compensate them for his death in 1943, when a fishing boat was sunk by a German submarine off the Brazilian coast. By majority vote, the STF established the thesis that unlawful acts committed by foreign States in violation of human rights do not enjoy immunity from jurisdiction in Brazil. Reference: (ARE) 954858.

The attack on the fishing boat Changri-lá killed ten fishermen in July 1943, during World War II, in Brazilian territorial sea, near Cabo Frio (RJ). In 2001, the Maritime Court officially recognized that the cause of the wreck was the torpedoing of the vessel by a German U-199 submarine, leading the grandchildren and widows of one of the fishermen’s grandchildren to file, in 2006, an action for compensation for material and moral damages. In the first instance, the action for reparation was dismissed without a resolution on the merits. The family appealed to the Superior Court of Justice (STJ), but the appeal was not admitted based on the jurisprudence of that Court, which prevents the foreign State from being held liable for an act of war.

A press release from the STF is available here and the judgment (in Portuguese), which was made public on 24 September 2021, can be read here.

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OSPAR: Designation of North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea basin Marine Protected Area

On 1 October 2021, OSPAR held a hybrid ministerial meeting hosted by the Government of Portugal (postponed from June 2020 due to the pandemic), the outcomes of which included a legally binding OSPAR Decision to establish the North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea basin Marine Protected Area (NACES MPA). The NACES MPA (595,196 square km) is established in the high seas and seeks to protect a vitally important area for seabirds. For more information see here and here.

For other developments at OSPAR Ministerial 2021, including the adoption of the North-East Altantic Environment Strategy 2030, see here.

Source: OSPAR Commission, NACES MPA

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New Zealand: Supreme Court upholds decision to quash consents to seabed mining

The Supreme Court of New Zealand (SCNZ) decided (30 September 2021) to uphold previous High Court and Court of Appeal decisions quashing consents granted by the Decision Making Committee (DMC) of New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Agency that would have allowed mining company Trans-Tasman Resources Limited (TTR) to extract up to 50 million tonnes per annum from the South Taranaki Bight seabed (Case number [2021] NZSC 127).

Among other issues of domestic law, SCNZ found that in considering the effect of the Treaty of Waitangi to the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012, the DMC should have taken into account the effects of the proposed activity on existing interests adding that tikanga-based customary rights and interests constitute “existing interests” (…) including kaitiakitanga and rights claimed, but not yet granted, under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011. The court considered that the proposed activity in terms of tikanga may indicate that material harm extends beyond the physical effects of a discharge, or that pollution can be spiritual as well as physical.

A press release with further details on the case Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd v Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board is available here.

The South Taranaki Bight (STB) showing the Sediment Model Domain (SMD) (oblique black rectangle). The approximate project area is shown in red and the 12 NM boundary of the Territorial Sea is shown in yellow. Source: SC 28/2020 [2021] NZSC 127, page 128.

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AOSIS: Leaders’ Declaration 2021

On 22 September 2021 the Alliance of Small Islands (AOSIS), during a virtual AOSIS Leaders’ Summit, endorsed The Alliance of Small Islands Leaders’ Declaration 2021. The Leaders’ Declaration focuses on climate change, sustainable development and the ocean. This includes recognising states’ ocean-related responsibilities (preamble), the existing impacts of climate change on SIDS (para. 3), concerns over GHG emissions from shipping and the need for action (para. 15), the BBNJ Agreement process (paras. 39-40), fixed baselines and outer limits of maritime zones – once given due publicity (para. 41), marine plastic pollution –and more generally the need for a new legally binding global agreement on plastic pollution– (paras. 42-43) and enhancing technology transfer, scientific knowledge and recognition of traditional knowledge (para. 44).

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Ecuador: Preliminary Information submission to CLCS

On 20 September 2021 Ecuador submitted, in respect of three regions, its Preliminary information indicative of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). For more information see here.

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China: revised Maritime Traffic Safety Law enters into force

The 2021 revision of the Maritime Traffic Safety Law of the People’s Republic of China (Order No. 79 of the President of the People’s Republic of China) entered into force on 1 September 2021. This Order was issued on 29 April 2021, and it introduces new reporting requirements on foreign vessels entering China’s territorial seas. The reporting requirements apply to the following vessels:

  1. submersibles;
  2. nuclear powered vessels;
  3. ships carrying radioactive materials;
  4. ships carrying bulk oil, chemicals, liquefied gas and other toxic and harmful substances;
  5. other vessels that may endanger the maritime traffic safety.

An official explanation for the revision of the law may be found at the Chinese Government website (in Chinese). An English translation is also available here.

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United Kingdom/Antigua and Barbuda: maritime delimitation agreement signed

The governments of Antigua and Barbuda and of the United Kingdom (UK) have signed on 27 July 2021 an agreement defining Antigua and Barbuda’s maritime jurisdiction. The agreement sets out the boundary between Antigua and Barbuda and Anguilla, a British Overseas Territory. The waters of Antigua and Barbuda border those of Anguilla (UK) to the northwest, Saint Barthélemy (France) to the northwest, the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis to the west, Montserrat (United Kingdom) to the southwest, and Guadeloupe (France) to the southeast. With this new treaty, the Antigua and Barbuda has delimited three of its five maritime boundaries. Only the boundaries with St Kitts and Nevis and Monserrat remain to be negotiated. More information is available at the Commonwealth homepage (here) and at the social media webpage of HM Governor’s Office in Anguilla (here).

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Chile/Argentina: Continental Shelf Differences

On 23 August 2021 Chile promulgated amendments to Decree 95: Determina Las Áreas Jurisdiccionales Marítimas Nacionales Desde Punta Puga A Islas Diego Ramírez (source), adding reference to the outer limit of the continental shelf and including a map. On 28 August 2021, Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship issued Press Release 344/21 (source) objecting to this claim and seeking resolution through dialogue.

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PIF: Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones

On 6 August 2021 the leaders at the Fifty-First Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) made a declaration entitled, Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the Face of Climate Change-related Sea-Level Rise. The declaration recalls the principles of legal stability, security, certainty, predictability, equity, fairness, justice and good faith that underpin UNCLOS and their relevance in the interpretation and application of UNCLOS in the context of sea-level rise and climate change.

The PIF leaders:

Affirm that the Convention imposes no affirmative obligation to keep baselines and outer limits of maritime zones under review nor to update charts or lists of geographical coordinates once deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Record the position of Members of the Pacific Islands Forum that maintaining maritime zones established in accordance with the Convention, and rights and entitlements that flow from them, notwithstanding climate change-related sea-level rise, is supported by both the Convention and the legal principles underpinning it,
Declare that once having, in accordance with the Convention, established and notified our maritime zones to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, we intend to maintain these zones without reduction, notwithstanding climate change-related sea-level rise,
Further declare that we do not intend to review and update the baselines and outer limits of our maritime zones as a consequence of climate change-related sea-level rise, and
Proclaim that our maritime zones, as established and notified to the Secretary-General of the United Nations in accordance with the Convention, and the rights and entitlements that flow from them, shall continue to apply, without reduction, notwithstanding any physical changes connected to climate change-related sea-level rise.

PIF, Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the Face of Climate Change-related Sea-Level Rise (6 Aug 2021)

For more information see here.

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Netherlands/Dominican Republic: Maritime Delimitation Agreement

On 5 July 2021 The Netherlands and Dominican Republic signed the Agreement between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Dominican Republic concerning Maritime Delimitation in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) concerning their maritime entitlements in the Caribbean region. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic (MIREX) [unofficial translation] “the delimitation of all maritime zones was drawn on the basis of the equidistance and will be the geodesic line formed by the points identified by their geographical coordinates expressed in the reference system World geodetic system of 1984”.

For more information see the MIREX Press Release (2).

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ISA: Nauru requests ISA Council to Complete Adoption of Exploitation Regulations

Through a letter dated 25 June 2021, Nauru exercised its rights under Section 1(15)(a) of the 1994 Agreement Relating to the Implementation of Part XI of UNCLOS to request that the Council of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) complete the adoption of the rules, regulations and procedures necessary to facilitate the approval of plans of work for exploitation in the Area. Nauru informed the ISA that a Nauruan entity sponsored by Nauru intends to apply for approval of a plan of work for exploitation in the Area in two years.

According to Section 1(15)(b), following such a request “the Council shall, in accordance with article 162, paragraph 2(o), of the Convention, complete the adoption of such rules, regulations and procedures within two years of the request”. Furthermore, Section 1(15)(c) provides “If the Council has not completed the elaboration of the rules, regulations and procedures relating to exploitation within the prescribed time and an application for approval of a plan of work for exploitation is pending, it shall none the less consider and provisionally approve such plan of work based on the provisions of the Convention and any rules, regulations and procedures that the Council may have adopted provisionally, or on the basis of the norms contained in the Convention and the terms and principles contained in this Annex as well as the principle of non-discrimination among contractors”.

For more information see here.

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India: Supreme Court Disposes of the ‘Enrica Lexie’ Incident Related Proceedings

The Indian Supreme Court, by Order of 15 June 2021 in Special Leave Petition (Civil) No 20370 of 2012: Massimilano Latorre and Ors vs Union of India and Ors, quashed the criminal proceedings against the Italian marines involved in the ‘Enrica Lexie’ Incident and disposed of all related pending matters before the court (Order, Paragraph 7). As per The ‘Enrica Lexie’ Incident (Italy v. India) Award, Paragraph 1094(B)(3), the Arbitral Tribunal had decided “India must take the necessary steps to cease to exercise its criminal jurisdiction over the Marines”. Likewise, in respect of The ‘Enrica Lexie’ Incident (Italy v. India) Award, Paragraph 1094(B)(6)(b) concerning compensation due by Italy, Italy and India “agreed to the amount of INR 100,000,000 (INR 100 million) to be paid by Italy as total compensation under all the four heads of compensable loss identified by the Arbitral Tribunal’s award” (Order, Paragraph 3). Finally, concerning Italy’s commitment to resume its criminal investigation, expressed during the ‘Enrica Lexie’ Incident (Italy v. India) proceedings, “Italy will resume its criminal investigation in the events of 15.02.2012 and that both India and Italy will cooperate with each other in pursuit of that investigation” (Order, Paragraph 3).

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Switzerland/Nigeria: M/T “San Padre Pio” Release Agreement

On 20 May 2021 the Nigerian minister of justice and the Swiss ambassador in Nigeria signed a memorandum of understanding providing for the immediate release of the M/T “San Padre Pio” vessel, a vessel detained in January 2018 in Nigeria’s exclusive economic zone. According to the Press Release, “Once the vessel has been able to leave Nigeria’s exclusive economic zone, the legal proceeding pending before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg can be terminated.” Therefore, upon successful implementation of the MoU, The M/T “San Padre Pio” (No. 2) Case (Switzerland/Nigeria) currently before ITLOS will be terminated (see previous reporting).

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WTO: Fisheries Subsidies Draft Negotiating Text

On 11 May 2021 the chair of the fisheries subsidies negotiations introduced the Fisheries Subsidies: Draft Consolidated Chair Text ahead of the 15 July 2021 meeting of ministers. Weekly thematic meetings to assist in finalizing a text will start 24 May 2021.

For further information see the Chair’s explanatory note accompanying the new fisheries subsidies draft negotiating text and WTO press release.

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CLCS: Iceland Partial Revised Submission

On 31 March 2021 Iceland submitted to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf a Partial Revised Submission in respect of the western, southern and south-eastern parts of Reykjanes Ridge. This region also featured in Iceland’s 2009 Partial Submission in respect of the Ægir Basin Area and the Western and Southern Parts of Reykjanes Ridge, for which the CLCS adopted Recommendations in 2016. The 2021 Revised Partial Submission “is limited to Reykjanes Ridge, as the Icelandic Government agrees with the recommendations provided for the Ægir Basin Area” (Executive Summary).

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CLCS: Russian Federation’s addenda in respect of the Arctic Ocean

On 31 March 2021, the Russian Federation submitted two addenda to the executive summary of the partial revised Submission in respect of the Arctic Ocean. The two addenda, concern: (i) Gakkel Ridge, Nansen and Amundsen Basins, and (ii) Lomonosov Ridge, Alpha Ridge, Mendeleev Rise, Amundsen and Makarov Basins, and the Canadian Basin, respectively. For more information see CLCS.1.REV.2015.LOS.Add1 (Continental Shelf Notification).

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ICJ: Non-Participation of Kenya during Somalia v. Kenya hearings

By letter dated 11 March 2021, the Agent of Kenya in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v. Kenya) informed the ICJ that Kenya would not be participating in the hearings, including the reasons for its non-participation. Kenya requested “the opportunity to address the ICJ orally before the commencement of the hearings” and enclosed a 175 page ‘Position Paper’ “for consideration by the Judges even as the hearing proceeds without Kenya’s participation”. Somalia opposed both requests and the ICJ “[h]aving considered the views of the Parties, the Court decided not to grant either of the two requests made by Kenya”. Despite Kenya’s non-participation, hearings proceed on 15-24 March 2021 and the ICJ “has available to it the Counter-Memorial and Rejoinder filed by Kenya, as well as multiple volumes of materials that were produced by Kenya”.

For more information see the Verbatim record 2021/2.

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Belgium: resolution on deep seabed mining adopted in Parliament

The Federal Parliament of Belgium adopted (16 January 2021) Resolution 55 1687 on deep seabed mining. This resolution requests the Belgium Government to 1) support fundamental scientific research and data collection for further knowledge of the deep sea and for the protection of existing marine ecosystems, and 2) to continue to respect environmental legislation and the precautionary principle when developing possible exploitation rules for deep-sea mining to preserve the biodiversity of marine ecosystems. Resolution 55 1687 may be found here (in French and Dutch).

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UK/EU: Trade and Cooperation Agreement

The Trade And Cooperation Agreement Between The European Union and The European Atomic Energy Community, of the One Part, and The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the Other Part was agreed among UK and EU negotiators on 24 December 2020 and has been provisionally applied as of 1 January 2021 (pending ratification by the EU). The Trade and Cooperation Agreement provides the framework of UK-EU relations in numerous areas of oceans policy, such as international maritime transport (2.1.2), sustainable development, such as trade and sustainable management of marine biological resources and aquaculture, or greenhouse gas emissions reduction measures at the IMO (2.1.11), fisheries (2.5) and offshore renewable energy in the North Sea (2.1.8).

For more information see the UK summary and European Commission summary. See further the UK’s implementing legislation, the European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020.

Concerning Gibraltar, the Government of Gibraltar announced on 31 December 2020 that it had reached an in principle agreement with the UK and Spain for a proposed framework for a UK-EU Agreement on Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU.

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ILO: Amendments of 2018 to The Maritime Labour Convention Enter Into Force

The Amendments of 2018 to the Code of the Maritime Labour Convention, adopted 5 June 2018, entered into force 26 December 2020 (see further the status of acceptance by parties). The amendments provide that parties shall require that a seafarer’s employment agreement (SEA) shall continue to have effect while a seafarer is held captive on or off the ship as a result of acts of piracy or armed robbery against ships (ARAS), including the continued benefit of wages and other entitlements under the SEA. Piracy is defined in the MLC Amendments of 2018 by reference to the UNCLOS definition of piracy (see Articles 101-103 of UNCLOS). The definition of ARAS in the MLC Amendments of 2018 follows the previous precedents found in IMO documents (IMO Assembly Resolution A.1025(26), Annex, Paragraph 2.2) and regional treaties (Article 1(2) of Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia).

For an example of domestic implementation of the MLC Amendments of 2018 see Singapore’s Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) (Amendment) Act 2020.

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Greece: Closing Bays and Straight Baselines in the Ionian Sea

On 27 December 2020, in accordance with Articles 5, 7, 8, 10, 13 and 14 of UNCLOS, Presidential Decree No. 107 applies closing lines to the listed bays (Article 2 and Table) and further straight baselines (Article 3 and Table) in the maritime area of the Ionian and the Ionian islands up to Cape Tainaro in the Peloponnese. According to the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an extension of the territorial sea will be forthcoming as the baselines are “a necessary step in the process for extending the country’s territorial waters in the above-mentioned area”.

While limited in application to the Ionian Sea, Article 1(3) of Presidential Decree No. 107 provides that “The Hellenic Republic reserves the right to exercise its respective rights in the other regions of its Territory, as they derive from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of ​​10 December 1982, which reflects customary international law”.

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CLCS: Costa Rica/Ecuador joint submission on continental shelf outer limits

The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) reports that on 16 December 2020 the Republic of Costa Rica and the Republic of Ecuador jointly submitted information on the limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured in the Panama Basin. According to the submitting States, this is a partial submission. The consideration of the joint submission will be included in the provisional agenda of the fifty-fourth session of the CLCS. Upon completion of the consideration of the submission, the CLCS shall make recommendations. More information is available here.

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The outer limit of the continental shelf of Costa Rica and Ecuador beyond 200 nautical miles in the Panama Basin (yellow line). Source: Executive Summary of the Joint Partial Submission to the CLCS

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UK: Tristan da Cunha MPA announced

The Government of the United Kingdom (UK) has announced the creation of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the waters around its Overseas Territory of Tristan da Cunha (13 November 2020). This MPA is set to become the largest fully protected marine reserve in the Atlantic Ocean, at 687,000 square kilometres. The research leading to this declaration was supported by the UK’s Blue Belt Programme. More information is available here.

Map of the Tristan da Cunha Marine Protection Zone
The Tristan da Cunha Marine Protection Zone. Source: Tristan da Cunha Government

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Dispute Concerning the Detention of Ukrainian Naval Vessels and Servicemen (Ukraine v. Russia)

As previously suggested, on 22 August 2020 Russia did exercise its right to submit preliminary objections in the Dispute Concerning the Detention of Ukrainian Naval Vessels and Servicemen (Ukraine v. the Russian Federation), PCA Case No. 2019-28, contending that the Arbitral Tribunal does not have jurisdiction. Ukraine and Russia disagreed upon whether these preliminary objections are of “an exclusively preliminary character” that may result in bifurcation of the proceedings (Rules of Procedure, Art 11(3)). On 27 October 2020 the Arbitral Tribunal (UNCLOS, Annex VII) issued its Procedural Order No. 2, whereby:

THE ARBITRAL TRIBUNAL HEREBY ORDERS:

1. The Arbitral Tribunal considers that the Preliminary Objections of the Russian Federation appear at this stage to be of a character that justifies having them examined in a preliminary phase, and in accordance with Article 11, paragraph 3, of the Rules of Procedure, decides that the Preliminary Objections of the Russian Federation shall be addressed in a preliminary phase of these proceedings.

2. The proceedings on the merits are hereby suspended.

3. In accordance with paragraph 5(t) of Procedural Order No. l, Ukraine shall file any observations on the Preliminary Objections of the Russian Federation within three months of the date of this Order. Following receipt of these observations, the Arbitral Tribunal will decide whether any further written submissions are needed and, after consultation with the Parties, the time limits for such submissions.

4. If the Arbitral Tribunal, in delivering its award in the preliminary phase of the proceedings in accordance with Article 11 , paragraph 7, of the Rules of Procedure, declares that a Preliminary Objection does not possess an exclusively preliminary character, then, in accordance with
Article 11, paragraph 3, of the Rules of Procedure, that Objection shall be ruled upon in conjunction with the merits.

Judge Gudmundur Eiriksson appended a Dissenting Opinion to the Order of the Arbitral Tribunal. Eiriksson agreed with the decision of the Tribunal but did not share the reasoning of the Tribunal.

See further the PCA Press Release.

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UK/Greenland: MoU on Enhancing Fisheries Cooperation

on 9 November 2020 the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of Greenland on enhancing cooperation on fisheries and related issues was signed in duplicate in London and Nuuk by representatives of the UK and Greenland. The governments of the UK and Greenland will establish a UK-Greenland fisheries dialogue (‘the Fisheries Dialogue’) to “discuss, share information, and cooperate on fisheries and marine issues, and other associated matters”.

The non-exhaustive list of matters for the Fisheries Dialogue includes fisheries, aquaculture, fish processing and the wider supply chain, broader marine conservation, scientific cooperation and mutual support in international fora (e.g. RFMOs) (Paragraph 1). Non-state actors may be involved, most notably in fostering private sector or scientific cooperation (Paragraphs 2, 5). The Fisheries Dialogue shall meet at least annually (Paragraphs 3-4). The MoU will come into effect on 1 January 2021 (Paragraph 7).

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UK/Faroe Islands: Fisheries Framework Agreement

On 29 October 2020 the Framework Agreement on Fisheries Between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the Faroes was signed in Copenhagen by representatives of the UK and Faroes Islands. The Framework Fisheries Agreement recognizes zonal attachment as an important principle of international fisheries management (preamble). Modern principles of international fisheries law shall guide cooperation (Article 1), with annual negotiations on the possible exchanges of quotas or access to waters (Articles 2-3). Parties shall cooperate on fishing vessel licensing (Article 4) and further future arrangements on monitoring, control and enforcement are envisaged (Article 5).

The Framework Fisheries Agreement applies to the EEZ (or variations thereof) and, subject to domestic ratification, will enter into force 1 January 2021 (Article 11). The Agreement applies only to metropolitan UK and only to the Faroes Islands (Article 10).

For more information see the Explanatory Memorandum and UK Press Release.

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Norway: HFO ban in Svalbard proposed

The Government of Norway submit a proposal (6 November 2020) to ban ships from using heavy fuel oil (HFO) near Svalbard archipelago. The Ministry of Climate and the Environment aims to legislate a requirement for fuel for motor traffic at sea in the entire territorial waters of Svalbard. The provision is designed as a ban on using or having on board other petroleum-based fuel than natural gas and marine gas oil. A more detailed definition of natural gas and marine gas oil is proposed to be included in regulations on motor traffic on Svalbard. The proposal includes a transition period of two years for general cargo traffic to Longyearbyen and Barentsburg. The need for transitional arrangements will be reassessed after the ongoing consultation stage (see here, deadline 6 February 2021). More information is available here (in Norwegian).

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USA: Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act introduced

The House Natural Resources Committee of the United States House of Representatives has introduced on 20 October 2020 the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act (OBSCA). Bill text of the OBSCA can be viewed here, a section-by-section summary is here, and a fact sheet on the bill can be viewed here. Among other measures, the OBSCA establishes monitoring, reporting, and verification requirements of greenhouse gas emissions applicable “to all vessels of 5,000 gross tons or more calling at, leaving, or transiting between, or at berth at, ports in the United States, regardless of flag” (sections 1401-1402). More information on OBSCA is available here and here.

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Bangladesh: amended submission on the outer limits of continental shelf lodged

Bangladesh has lodged an amended submission on the limits of its outer continental shelf in the Bay of Bengal to the United Nations (22 October 2020). The original submission to the CLCS was made on 25 February 2011. Subsequently, the maritime boundaries of Bangladesh with Myanmar and India were delimited in 2012 and 2014, through international adjudication process. The amended submission has been made to reflect the successful outcomes of those international processes. The press release from the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations is available  here. The submission, as received by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, is available here.

Depiction of the Fixed Point defining the Outer Limits of the Continental Shelf of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Source: People’s Republic of Bangladesh Amended Submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf Executive Summary

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UK/Norway: Framework Fisheries Agreement

On 30 September 2020 the Framework Agreement on Fisheries between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Kingdom of Norway was signed in London by representatives of the UK and Norway. On 19 October 2020 the Framework Fisheries Agreement was laid before the UK Parliament and published. The Framework Fisheries Agreement provides for annual negotiations on the exchanges of quota and access to waters (Arts. 3-4), as well as collaboration on control and enforcement measures (Art. 6), the licensing of vessels (Art. 5) and scientific research (Art. 1(h)). The Framework Fisheries Agreement recognizes the importance of zonal attachment as a principle of international fisheries management (preamble).

The Framework Fisheries Agreement applies to the EEZ (Art. 2) (or variations thereof) and, subject to domestic ratification, will enter into force 1 January 2021 (Art. 11). The Agreement applies to metropolitan UK only. According to the UK Government, it represents the first fisheries agreement for the UK ‘as an independent coastal state in 40 years’. Separate trilateral discussions will still be needed to establish trilateral governance arrangements for North Sea stocks (UK, Norway and the EU).

For more information see the Framework Fisheries Agreement, UK Explanatory memorandum and press releases (UK; Norway).

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UK: West of Scotland Marine Protected Area

On 9 October 2020 the West of Scotland Marine Protected Area Order 2020, a Scottish Ministerial Order, entered into force, creating the largest MPA located in national waters within the North-East Atlantic. Features of the former Rosemary Bank Seamount MPA are now protected within the West of Scotland MPA.

Marine Protected Areas: September 2020. Source.

For more information see here.

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USA: Revision of Marine Scientific Research Policy

On 9 September 2020 the President of the United States of America by Proclamation 10071, entitled, Revision to United States Marine Scientific Research Policy, establishes the revised US policy:

Section 1. Policy. The United States will exercise its right to regulate, authorize, and conduct marine scientific research, with a specific requirement to authorize, in advance, all instances of foreign marine scientific research, in the United States EEZ and on its continental shelf to the extent permitted under international law.

Former President of the United States of America, Ronald Regan, in the Presidential Statement of 10 March 1983, entitled, Statement on United States Oceans Policy, had established the previous US MSR policy:

While international law provides for a right of jurisdiction over marine scientific research within such a zone, the proclamation does not assert this right. I have elected not to do so because of the United States interest in encouraging marine scientific research and avoiding any unneccessary burdens.

Thus, according to the US State Department Press Release, the United States previously required advance consent for MSR conducted in its EEZ and on the U.S. continental shelf only when such research implicated certain U.S. domestic legal requirements.

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Launch of BBNJ Virtual Intersessional Work

Following postponement of the fourth session of IGC on a BBNJ Agreement, the President of the IGC has decided to launch the BBNJ Intersessional Work, entitled, Virtual intersessional work of the Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, from 14 September 2020. The objective is to continue the dialogue on the key pillars of any future BBNJ Agreement, as well as any cross cutting issues.

For more information see here.

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USA: Visa Restrictions and Entity Listings Relating to Chinese Activities in South China Sea

On 26 August 2020, the US State Department announced visa restrictions on “individuals responsible for, or complicit in, either the large-scale reclamation, construction, or militarization of disputed outposts in the South China Sea, or the PRC’s use of coercion against Southeast Asian claimants to inhibit their access to offshore resource”. This includes inadmissibility to the USA for listed persons and visa restrictions for immediate family members. The persons listed remain confidential, but are inadmissible on the basis of US foreign policy concerns (senior State Department official; 8 USC 1182(a)(3)(c)).

On 26 August 2020, the US Department of Commerce announced that 24 Chinese companies were added to the Entity List (15 CFR 744.16) of the Export Administration Regulations on the basis “these entities enabled China to reclaim and militarize disputed outposts in the South China Sea” (85(167) Federal Register 52898). The US government determined it had “reasonable cause to believe, based on specific and articulable facts, that the entity has been involved, is involved, or poses a significant risk of being or becoming involved in activities that are contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States” (15 CFR 744.11). A license is required, to the extent specified on the Entity List, to export, reexport, or transfer (in-country) any item subject to the Export Administration Regulations.

On the 27 August 2020, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson called the measures “unjustified”.

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ITLOS: Election of Seven Members of the Tribunal

The Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (SPLOS) have elected seven Members of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), following three rounds of voting held 24-26 August 2020 (UNCLOS, Annex VI, Article 4; Round 1; Round 2; Round 3).

The States Parties re-elected David Joseph Attard and Markiyan Z. Kulyk and elected Kathy-Ann Brown (Jamaica), Ida Caracciolo (Italy), Jielong Duan (China), María Teresa Infante Caffi (Chile), and Maurice Kamga (Cameroon) (see curricula vitae of candidates nominated by States Parties). The nine year term of each Member will commence 1 October 2020 (Rules of the Tribunal, Article 2).

The term of office for five Members of the Tribunal shall expire 30 September 2020, namely, Tafsir Malick Ndiaye (Senegal), Jean-Pierre Cot (France), Anthony Lucky (Trinidad and Tobago), Zhiguo Gao (China) and Elsa Kelly (Argentina).

For more information see the ITLOS Press Release and the Registrar’s Overview of the Election Procedure.

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USA: Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument fisheries restored

The President of the United States of America issued Proclamation on Modifying The Northeast Canyons And Seamounts Marine National Monument (5 June 2020). This proclamation restores commercial fishing that is carried out in accordance with Magnuson-Stevens and other applicable laws, regulations, and requirements. It reverses restrictions on commercial fishing set forth in Proclamation 9496, which prohibited commercial fishing, with a phase-out period for American lobster and red crab fisheries, within the monument’s boundaries.

In Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association v. Ross, the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit (349 F.Supp.3d 48 (2018)), dismissed a complaint from several commercial-fishing associations that challenged the creation of the Monument (5 October 2018). The United States District Court, District of Columbia (9945 F.3d 535 (2019)) upheld that ruling (27 December 2019).

The new Proclamation may be found here.

750xNortheast_Canyons_and_Seamounts_Marine_National_Monument_MAP.jpg
Map of Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. Source: NOAA.gov

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Somalia: Statement on Significant Illegal Fishing in Somalia’s EEZ

On 24 June 2020 the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources of the Federal Republic of Somalia (2) issued a press release, entitled, Iranian flagged fishing vessels identified operating illegally in Somalian EEZ. Somalia calls upon Iran to cooperate in addressing the suspected (at least) 112-193 Iranian fishing vessels operating in the EEZ of Somalia and Yemen between January 2019 to 14 April 2020. The information has been shared with the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). Foreign flagged vessels may only fish in the Somalian exclusive economic zone beyond 24 nautical miles, and currently only 31 Chinese-flagged vessels are licenced.

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Singapore/ITLOS: Model Agreement for the Provision of Facilities to ITLOS

On the 11 June 2020 Singapore and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) signed the Model Agreement: Agreement for the provision of facilities for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea / a Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to sit or otherwise exercise its functions in the Republic of Singapore in [case name]. The Model Agreement establishes the terms and conditions under which the Singapore government shall provide appropriate facilities for the Tribunal, or a Chamber of the Tribunal, to sit or otherwise exercise its functions in Singapore (art. 2).

The Model Agreement enables ITLOS to implement Article 1(3) of UNCLOS Annex VI, whereby the Tribunal may sit and exercise its functions outside of Hamburg (Germany) whenever it considers this desirable. Consultations concerning Singapore as a seat for the Tribunal began in 2007, resulting in the 2015 Joint Declaration Signed between Ministry of Law and President of the Tribunal (2). Negotiations on the terms of the Model Agreement, as per Article 7 of the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, concluded in October 2019.

For more information see the Model Agreement, the Model Annex and the Joint Press Release (ITLOS/Press 239); Joint Press Release (ITLOS/Press 303).

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France: continental shelf extension authorized by the CLCS

The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) has published recommendations authorizing France to extend its continental shelf off the islands of La Réunion and Saint-Paul and Amsterdam. According to these recommendations, published on 10 June 2020, France may extend its continental shelf off the islands of La Réunion and Saint-Paul and Amsterdam (French Southern and Antarctic Lands). France will thus expand its submarine domain by 151,323 km2 (58,121 km2 off La Réunion and 93,202 km2 off Saint-Paul and Amsterdam). Further information is available here (in French).

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PCA: Dispute Concerning the Detention of Ukrainian Naval Vessels and Servicemen (Ukraine v. Russia)

On the 22 May 2020 Ukraine submitted its written memorial to the Arbitral Tribunal (UNCLOS, Annex VII) in respect of the Dispute Concerning the Detention of Ukrainian Naval Vessels and Servicemen (Ukraine v. the Russian Federation), PCA Case No. 2019-28. According to Procedural Order No. 1 (22 November 2019), the Russian Federation shall submit its written memorial within 6 months (para. 4), or preliminary objections within 3 months (para 5; Rules of Procedure (22 November 2019), art. 11). Any preliminary objections that ‘possess an exclusively preliminary character’ are to be examined in a preliminary phase prior to the merits of the case.

On the 26 May 2020 the Russian MFA commented on Ukraine’s submission. The Russian MFA suggests that Ukraine’s written memorial has “reduced the list of its [Ukraine’s] initial claims”. There is also a suggestion that Russia will exercise its right to submit preliminary objections:

Next, Russia will have to file its jurisdictional objections regarding this case by August 22, 2020 under the relevant rules of procedure.

For more information see PCA Case No. 2019-28, as well as the related provisional measures case, ITLOS Case No. 26. For previous DeMaribus reports, see here.

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Philippines: Chinese jurisdiction over islands contested

The Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines issued a statement (30 April 2020) contesting the so-called districts of “Nansha” and “Xisha” under the supposed administrative jurisdiction of its self-declared “Sansha City” announced on 18 April 2020 by the People’s Republic of China. According to this announcement by China, “the Xisha District of Sansha City has jurisdiction over the islands and reefs of the Xisha Islands and its sea areas, and is in charge of the islands and reefs of the Zhongsha Islands and its sea areas”. The statement from the Philippines is available here.

The United States of America also issued a statement (22 April 2020) describing China’s announcement as a “new unilateral announcement of administrative districts over disputed islands and maritime areas in the South China Sea”.

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UK: Fisheries Framework Agreement draft negotiating document published

The United Kingdom published (April 2020) a Draft Working Text for a Fisheries Framework Agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the European Union. The preamble of this document states that:

The UK proposal reflects the fact that, at the end of 2020, the UK will be an independent coastal State and will no longer be bound by the Common Fisheries Policy, and that the current arrangements on quota-sharing will end. In line with the UK’s commitment to best available science, future fishing opportunities should be based on the principle of zonal attachment. The UK proposal is based on relevant international precedents, including the EU’s separate fisheries agreements with other coastal states. Through this agreement, and the annual negotiations it provides for, the UK would fulfil its obligations under UNCLOS to cooperate with the EU on the sustainable management of shared stocks.

The document calls for “annual negotiations on fishing opportunities and access” (Article 2). It proposes that any vessels granted access to fish in the relevant waters must “obtain an authorisation and a licence” (Article 3.1) before commencing fishing operations and that “each Party shall manage its own fisheries independently and may take such measures in its relevant waters as it considers appropriate to ensure the rational and sustainable management of fisheries” (Article 4.1). The document is available here.

A Draft text of the Agreement on the New Partnership with the United Kingdom, which includes a chapter on fisheries, was published (18 March 2020) by the European Union. It is available here.

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Agreement on Control Measures for Shared Pelagic Stocks in the North-East Atlantic for 2020

On 22 April 2020, the European Union, Norway and the Faroe Islands signed the Agreed Record of Conclusions of Fisheries Consultations Between Norway, The European Union and The Faroe Islands on Control Measures for Pelagic Stocks in the North-East Atlantic for 2020. According to paragraph 5, the agreed monitoring, control and surveillance measures found in Annexes I-V shall apply to “mackerel, herring, blue whiting and horse mackerel”. Annex VI establishes the Coastal States Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Working Group which aims to “establish best practice[s] in monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) both at sea and on land, and recommend harmonised MCS measures”.

For further information see the Agreed record of conclusions on control measures for pelagic stocks in the North-East Atlantic for 2020 and the EU press release.

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CLCS: Vietnam and China Communications on Malaysia’s Partial Submission

April 2020 witnessed 3 further communications being submitted to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) concerning the Partial Submission by Malaysia in the South China Sea. On the 10 April 2020 Vietnam submitted Communication dated 10 April 2020 (Viet Nam 1) responding to the CLCS Submission by the Government of Malaysia. Vietnam also submitted Communication dated 10 April 2020 (Viet Nam 2) responding to the previously reported Communications dated 6 March 2020 (Philippines 1 and 2). On the 17 April 2020 China submitted Communication dated 17 April 2020 (China) responding to Communications dated 10 April 2020 (Viet Nam 1 and 2), as well as the previously reported Communication dated 30 March 2020 (Viet Nam).

For further information see the previous posts (1) and (2) and here.

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Compilations of textual proposals for consideration at fourth session of IGC on BBNJ Agreement

Accompanying the previously reported Revised Draft Text of A BBNJ Agreement, the President of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) invited delegations to submit by the 3 February 2020 (extended to 20 February 2020) textual proposals for consideration at the fourth session. The secretariat (DOLAS) was requested to produce a compilation of proposals received by that deadline (A/CONF.232/2020/3, para. 9). DOLAS has released two compilations dated 15 April 2020:

For more information see the documents page for the fourth substantive session.

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CLCS: Philippines and China Communications on Malaysia’s Partial Submission

March 2020 witnessed 3 further communications being submitted to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) concerning the Partial Submission by Malaysia in the South China Sea. On the 6 March 2020, the Philippines submitted Communication dated 6 March 2020 (Philippines 1) responding to the previously reported Communication dated 12 December 2019 (China). The Philippines also submitted Communication dated 6 March 2020 (Philippines 2) responding to CLCS Submission by the Government of Malaysia. On the 23 March 2020 China submitted Communication dated 23 March 2020 (China) which responds to Philippines Communications 1 and 2.

For further information see the previous post and here.

Update (03/04/2020): On the 30 March 2020 Vietnam submitted Communication dated 30 March 2020 (Viet Nam), responding to China’s Communications, dated 12 December 2019 and 23 March 2020 respectively.

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Russia: Protest of Norway’s Svalbard Fisheries Protection Zone

On 4 February 2020 the Russian Foreign Minister sent a message to the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs on the 100th anniversary of the Spitsbergen Treaty. The letter raises numerous ‘concerns’ including “the unlawfulness of Norway’s fisheries protection zone” and requests further bilateral consultations.

For further information see MID Press Release № 180-04-02-2020.

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UK: Fisheries Bill (HL) 2019-2020 First Reading

On 29 January 2020 the UK Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity) introduced to the House of Lords the Fisheries Bill (HL Bill 71). As previously reported, the bill was first introduced during the last parliament in the House of Commons. As set out in the Explanatory Notes (HL Bill 71):

Since the Bill was most recently considered in the last Parliament, the Government has included additional provisions: a single set of UK-wide fisheries objectives (including a new climate change objective); a duty to create fisheries management plans to fish at sustainable limits for all stocks; and a broadening of the grant making power. The Bill also provides further powers for the Welsh and Scottish Governments that reflect a number of those granted to the Secretary of State, and a change to the commencement provisions (para. 3).

Of particular interest for international fisheries law is the climate change objective (clause 1(1)(h), 1(9)) and the fisheries management plan obligations (clauses 6-9).

For further information see the Human rights memorandum and the previous white paper, Sustainable fisheries for future generations. Progress of the Bill may be followed here.

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Singapore/Malaysia: Sub-Committee to Commence Negotiations on Maritime Boundary Delimitation of Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge

The eighth meeting of the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Technical Committee (MSJTC) on the Implementation of the International Court of Justice Judgment on Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge was held 21 January 2020 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The outcomes of the meeting include:

“The Meeting further agreed for the Sub-Committee on Maritime Boundary Delimitation of Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge to commence negotiations.”

For further information see the Joint Press Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Singapore and Malaysia respectively.

The MSJTC is a cooperative process established to implement the 2008 ICJ Judgment (Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge (Malaysia/Singapore)). See further the discontinued 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).

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