Category Archives: State Practice

Netherlands/Russia: Settlement Concerning the Arctic Sunrise

Without prejudice to their legal positions in The Arctic Sunrise Arbitration (Netherlands v. Russia), Russia and The Netherlands have reached a full and final settlement of dispute in respect of the Arctic Sunrise incident of September 2013. The agreement remains confidential, but the Joint Statement of 17 May 2019 nonetheless recognizes an understanding upon the rights and responsibilities of both the coastal state and flag state in the EEZ. This includes recognition of the rights related to peaceful protest. Joint Russian-Dutch research in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation is also promoted.

See the Joint Statement here and here.

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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 (reference: HR-2019-282-S, case no. 18-064307STR-HRET) may be found here (in Norwegian); an English translation has also been made available here.

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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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EU/UK: Draft Withdrawal Agreement Reached at Negotiators’ Level

On 14 November 2018 the Draft Withdrawal Agreement and Outline of the Political Declaration on the Future Relationship were finalised and agreed at the negotiator level. This is now subject to legal verification, whereby the final agreement and declaration are subject to endorsement and adoption, respectively.

Arrangements relating to fishing opportunities during the transition period are found within Article 130. If an agreement on the future EU-UK relationship is not applicable by 31 December 2020, the single EU-UK customs territory forming part of the “backstop solution” (Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, Article 6) will exclude fishery and aquaculture products “unless an agreement on access to waters and fishing opportunities is applicable between the Union and the United Kingdom”. The Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration both highlight the commitment to “use their best endeavours to conclude and ratify such an agreement before 1 July 2020”.  The Protocol relating to the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus preserves EU fisheries law for Sovereign Base Areas (Article 6), while the Protocol on Gibraltar establishes UK-Spain coordinating procedures for fisheries (Article 4).

See further the Joint Statement (14 Nov 2018), Déclaration par Michel Barnier and the European Commission recommendation to the European Council.

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Japan: coastal areas designated under Ramsar Convention

Japan has designated two coastal areas, Shizugawa-wan (Ramsar Site no. 2358) and Kasai Marine Park (Site no. 2357), as Wetlands of International Importance, while extending a third, Lower Maruyama River and the Surrounding Rice Paddies (Site no. 2055), in order to reinforce its conservation value. This designation took place under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat. More information is available here

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Baltic Sea: maritime boundary agreement between Denmark and Poland reached

Denmark and Poland have agreed on a maritime boundary that, once it enters into force, will delimit the Continental Shelfs and the Exclusive Economic Zones of the two countries in the Baltic Sea, south of Bornholm. The disputed area is approximately 3.600 km2. It is the last outstanding delimitation in the area of Bornholm. The maritime boundaries between Bornholm and Sweden were settled in 1984 and between Bornholm and Germany in 1988. The joint press statement may be found here and here.

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UK: Fisheries Bill first reading

The UK Government has introduced to the UK House of Commons the Fisheries Bill (Bill 278), its first reading being held 25 October 2018. As summarized in the Explanatory Notes (para. 1), “[t]he Fisheries Bill (the Bill) will provide the legal framework for the United Kingdom to operate as an independent coastal state under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS) after the UK has left the European Union (EU) and the Common Fisheries Policy (the CFP)”.

For more information see the Fisheries Bill (as introduced)Explanatory Notes, Delegated Powers Memorandum and press release.

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Arctic: Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean signed

On the 3 October 2018, the United States, Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, the European Union, Iceland, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Kingdom of Norway, the People’s Republic of China, and the Russian Federation signed the Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean (CAOF Agreement). The agreement covers approximately 2.8 million square kilometers and will establish and operate a Joint Program of Scientific Research and Monitoring (art. 4). Unregulated fishing in the high seas of the central Arctic Ocean is prohibited for 16 years following entry into force (arts. 3, 11, 13). Sedentary species are not included (art. 1).

See further, the CAOF Agreement, and statements by the EU, USA and Russia.

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Franco-UK Agreement on Scallop Fishing in the Bay of Seine

Altercations between French and UK scallop fishers in the Bay of Seine (French EEZ) resurfaced on the 27 August 2018 (the “scallop wars”). The incident arose out of a failure to renew a bilateral agreement between French and UK fishermen before the start of the 2018 scallop fishing season. Consensus could not be reached upon whether to include UK vessels under 15 metres long within the industry agreement. Following a series of meetings, industry agreement was reached 17 September 2018 and endorsed by the respective French and UK ministries.

For further information see the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food communiqués and the prior statement of the UK Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

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France (New Caledonia): Three Coral Sea Nature Park decrees adopted

Following public consultations, the Government of New Caledonia adopted on 14 August 2018 three decrees relating to the Coral Sea Nature Park.

The first introduces reserves in the Coral Sea Nature Park at Chesterfield, Bellona, Entrecasteaux, Pétrie and Astrolabe. 7,000km2 is designated réserve intégrale, whereby no access or human activity is allowed, except in the context of approved scientific research. 21,000km2 is designated réserves naturelles, whereby access is subject to governmental authorization and fishing, hunting, camping, picnics or water sports are prohibited. The second decree regulates professional tourism in the area, with a further decree reportedly being prepared for private pleasure craft, yachts, charter vessels and those who transit the maritime area. Finally, the third decree concerns adoption of a Park Management Plan.

Coral Sea Nature Park

For further information see the press releases here and here. Note, currently listed under France an independence referendum is scheduled for 4 November 2018.

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South Africa: First vessel detention under work in fishing convention

Following the previously reported entry into force, the first fishing vessel detention under the port state inspection provisions of the ILO Convention (No. 188) concerning work in the fishing sector occurred in June 2018, Cape Town, South Africa. Steps for rectification and a detention fee were required before the vessel was permitted to leave.

For more information, see the ILO press release.

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China: extension and upgrade of the domestic ECA proposed

The Ministry of Transport of China has published (9 July 2018) an opinion letter on the draft “Ship Emission Control Area Adjustment Plan”. The draft plan proposes the extension of China’s domestic emission control areas (ECA) to the entire coastline. Accordingly, the “Implementation Plan on Domestic Emission Control Areas in Waters of the Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta and Bohai Rim (Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei)” could be made applicable to any areas within 12 nautical miles of the coast, as well as to Hainan waters. The draft plan aims at “accelerating the construction of an ecological civilization” and could become effective as from 2019. Under this draft plan, ships sailing and docking in the ECA should use fuels with a SOX content of 0.5% or less; from January 1, 2020, ships berthing in the ECA should use fuel of 0.1% or less. For Hainan waters, the draft plan mentions stricter standards to be applied from January 1, 2020, stating that fuels used in navigation and berthing should both be at or under the 0.1% threshold. In addition, the draft plan also aims at limiting NOX emissions, strenghtening the applicable 2016 standard (see Limits and measurement methods for exhaust pollutants from marine engines (China I, II)). The opinion letter may be found here (in Chinese). More information is available here (in Chinese) and here (in Chinese).

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EU-China Blue Partnership for the Oceans

During the 20th EU-China Summit, 16 July 2018 (Beijing, China) the European Union and China have signed an ocean partnership agreement, entitled, Blue Partnership for the Oceans: towards better ocean governance, sustainable fisheries and a thriving maritime economy. China had expressed its interest in such a partnership at previous high-level dialogues on oceans affairs (2017).

See further, the EU press release and Joint Statement (para. 33).

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EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement renewal concluded

The fifth negotiating session between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco for the renewal of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement and its Protocol concluded 20 July 2018. Both parties will now proceed with their respective legislative processes to ratify the agreement. The Moroccan fishing zone includes waters in the Sahara region (art. 1). Following the previously reported CJEU Decision on this issue, the European Commission states the text that is negotiated provides for strict provisions on the geographical and social distribution of benefits. The Sahrawi delegate minister for Europe responded “neither Western Sahara nor the waters adjacent to it are part of Morocco or its exclusive economic zone”.

For more information see the press releases of the EU (2), Morocco and Sahara Press Service.

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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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Norway: emissions from cruise ships and ferries in World Heritage fjords to be halted

The Norwegian Parliament (Storting) has called on the government to implement requirements and regulations for emissions from cruise ships and other maritime traffic in tourist resorts as well as other suitable means to ensure phasing-in of low-and-zero emissions solutions in the shipping industry by 2030. This includes introducing a zero emissions threshold for ferry ships and ferries in the World Heritage fjords as soon as it is technically feasible, and no later than 2026. The decision is part of a broader set of recommendations from the Energy and Environment Committee on the climate strategy for 2030 to cut Norwegian greenhouse gas emissions. Those recommendations (3 May 2018) may be found here (in Norwegian).

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EU: proposal on recovery plan for Mediterranean swordfish approved by the EC

The European Commission (EC) has approved a proposal to transpose into EU legislation stronger measures to help the recovery of the Mediterranean swordfish (24 April 2018). The new regulation incorporates the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) Recommendation 16-05 into EU law. This ICCAT Recommendation establishes a recovery plan that takes into account the specificities of different types of gear and fishing techniques. When implementing the recovery plan, the Union and Member States should undertake to promote coastal fishing activities and the use of selective fishing gear and techniques that reduce the environmental impact, including gear and techniques used in traditional and artisanal fisheries, thereby ensuring a fair standard of living for local fishing communities. That EC proposal may be found here.

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USA: Stay on shrimp and abalone under SIMP lifted

Mandatory compliance with the USA Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) became effective 1 January 2018, but shrimp and abalone inclusion was stayed until comparable traceability requirements for domestic aquaculture could be established. On 23 April 2018, the stay was lifted and thus shrimp and abalone compliance will be mandatory by 31 December 2018. According to NOAA, “The inclusion of shrimp – the largest US seafood import- and abalone in SIMP nearly doubles the volume and value of imported fish and fish products subject to its requirements, further leveling the playing field for U.S. fishermen, aquaculture producers, and seafood producers around the world who play by the rules”.

For more information see the press release. For other seafood, an “informed compliance” approach ended 9 April 2018.

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Netherlands: court finds criminal liability for export of ships as waste under EC Regulation 1013/2006

The Rotterdam District Court has condemned a shipping company for the illegal export of ships for scrapping. A set of related decisions dated 15 March 2018 has led to the company Seatrade being fined, and to a temporary professional ban issued against two of its executives. The Dutch public prosecutor considered as facts the sales of ships for demolition in India, Bangladesh and Turkey in 2012. One of the justifications for these decisions has been that the “harmful consequences of scrapping ships on the beaches of India and Bangladesh, in particular for the environment and health, are far-reaching.” (translated from the Dutch: “De schadelijke gevolgen van het slopen van schepen op de stranden van met name India en Bangladesh voor milieu en gezondheid, zijn verstrekkend”). These decisions were taken on the basis of Regulation (EC) Nr. 1013/2006 on the shipment of waste, which prohibits EU member-states from exporting hazardous waste to countries outside the OECD. The court interpreted Recital 35 of that Regulation, which states that “[i]t is necessary to ensure the safe and environmentally sound management of ship dismantling in order to protect human health and the environment” as encompassing ships of all flags fall under its scope. The cases may be found in the list below:

ECLI: NL: RBROT: 2018: 2108 Court of Rotterdam, 15-03-2018, 10 / 994550-15
ECLI: NL: RBROT: 2018: 2215 Court of Rotterdam, 15-03-2018, 10 / 997501-13
ECLI: NL: RBROT: 2018: 2216 Court of Rotterdam, 15-03-2018, 10 / 997504-13
ECLI: NL: RBROT: 2018: 2217 Court of Rotterdam, 15-03-2018, 10 / 994552-15
ECLI: NL: RBROT: 2018: 2218 Court of Rotterdam, 15-03-2018, 10 / 997503-13
ECLI: NL: RBROT: 2018: 2345 Court of Rotterdam, 15-03-2018, 10 / 994551-15
ECLI: NL: RBROT: 2018: 2348 Court of Rotterdam, 15-03-2018, 10 / 994548-15
ECLI: NL: RBROT: 2018: 2364 Court of Rotterdam, 15-03-2018, 10 / 994549-15
ECLI: NL: RBROT: 2018: 2390 Court of Rotterdam, 15-03-2018, 10 / 997506-13

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Brazil: protected areas around Trindade e Martim Vaz and São Pedro e São Paulo archipelagos approved

The President of Brazil has approved on 19 March 2018 the creation of environmentally protected areas surrounding two of its archipelagos, including the creation of two natural monuments (as per Art. 12 of Law No 9.985 of 18 July 2000). The Decree No 9.312 creates the environmental protection area of the Tridade e Martim Vaz archipelago, creating also the natural monument of the Trindade e Martim Vaz islands and of the Columbia mount; it may be found here (in Portuguese). The Decree Nº 9.313 creates the environmental protection area of the São Pedro e São Paulo archipelago, creating also the natural monument of the São Pedro e São Paulo archipelago; it may be found here (in Portuguese). Whilst economic activities, such as sustainable fisheries, will be allowed within the environmental protection areas, the natural monuments will be areas of “integral protection”. The protected areas encompass the archipelagos’ Exclusive Economic Zones (c. 40 million hectares each). The protection of these areas will allow Brazil to accomplish Goal 11 of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

The location of Brazil’s newest marine protected areas. Source: Instituto Chico Gomes

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EU: UK withdrawal Draft Agreement published

The European Commission (Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 TEU) has published on 19 March 2018 The Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community. The document highlights the progress made in the negotiation round with the UK of 16-19 March 2018, with reference to a previous draft of 28 February 2018 (available here). As stated by the UK’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, there has been an agreement on “specific safeguards when it comes to annual fishing negotiations”, adding that through 2020 the UK “will be negotiating fishing opportunities as an independent coastal state, deciding who can access our waters and on what terms”. The Draft Agreement may be found here.

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TPP-11: Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership signed

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP, also known as the TPP11) was signed by 11 states, 8 March 2018, in Santiago, Chile. The agreement retains the contents of the original Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but includes 20 agreed suspensions, mainly in the area of intellectual property. The annexed Joint Ministerial Statement by CPTPP signatories, “expressed their determination to complete their domestic processes to bring the Agreement into force expeditiously”. Without claiming to be exhaustive, Chapter 20, Environment, is of interest to the law of the sea given its inclusion of ship-source pollution and marine capture fisheries.

For more information, see the CPTPP text, Joint Statement, Press release (Chile) and original TPP text.

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Russia: Novosibirsk Islands Federal Nature Sanctuary established

On the 2 March 2018, the Russian Government signed the directive (Распоряжение от 2 марта 2018 года №352-р) establishing the Novosibirsk Islands Federal Nature Sanctuary. Found within the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), the sanctuary covers “the Novosibirsk Islands Archipelago and adjoining waters (a section of inland sea and the territorial sea of the Russian Federation with a width of 12 nautical miles adjoining the territory of the Novosibirsk Islands Archipelago)”. This is in accordance with Federal Law of March 14, 1995 No. 33-FZ “On Specially Protected Natural Territories”.

For more information, see press release (English), Order №352-р (in Russian), and Federal Law No. 33-FZ (in Russian).

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Cyprus: EEZ hydrocarbon-related activities contested

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, which does not have diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cyprus, has objected (11 February 2018) to the “Greek Cypriot Administration’s hydrocarbon-related activities in the Eastern Mediterranean” which are said to be “in disregard of the inalienable rights on natural resources of the Turkish Cypriot people, who are the co-owners of the Island”. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has stated (13 February 2018) that “as long as the Greek Cypriot side continues to take unilateral steps that disregard our legitimate rights over the Island’s natural resources” it would take “reciprocal steps”. The President of the Republic Cyprus has reaffirmed (21 February 2018) that its intentions are to “to fully explore and exploit the hydrocarbon potential in its exclusive economic zone”.

This exchange follows the issuance by the Turkish Naval Force of a NAVTEX message which prevented a ENI-owned drillship from accessing Block 3 due to military training set to occur in the area. The Cyprus Joint Rescue Coordination Center has responded (27 January 2018) with another NAVTEX message, which described Turkey’s activity as “unauthorised and illegal”. The President of the European Council has meanwhile referred (23 February 2018) to “Turkey’s illegal violations in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the Aegean” and reiterated support for “the sovereign right of the Republic of Cyprus to explore and exploit its natural resources”. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece also criticised (6 March 2018) Turkey’s position, saying that Turkey “cannot pursue an aggressive foreign policy, not respecting international law and choosing to ignore or circumvent the Law of the Sea”.

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Cyprus offshore exploration blocks. Source: Republic of Cyprus, Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism (Twitter)

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Australia/Timor-Leste: Treaty establishing maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea signed

Following previous coverage (here), Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Timor-Leste’s Deputy Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Boundary Delimitation, signed the Treaty Between Australia and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste Establishing Their Maritime Boundaries in the Timor Sea, 6 March 2018, at the United Nations Headquarters. The agreement may be found here.

For further information, see the respective press releases of Timor-Leste (2),  Australia (2) and the PCA. A video of the proceedings is available here.

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Maritime Boundaries in the Timor Sea. Source: Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

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Philippines: Objection and nonrecognition of Chinese names for Benham Rise features

On the 14 February 2018 the Philippines Presidential Spokesperson issued a statement objecting to the submissions by China of names for undersea features in the “Benham Rise”, submitted to the Sub-Committee on Undersea Feature Names (SCUFN) of the International Hydrographic Organization. The Philippines will not recognize these names. During a public hearing of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, 26 February 2018, a reason for the objection was the violation of the Philippines’ sovereign rights, resulting from the lack of consent given to undertake the hydrographic surveys at the basis of the submissions.

For more information see the press releases, here, here, here, here, and SCUFN here. At the time of writing, a video of the hearing was available:

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Seychelles: Two new marine protected areas announced in ‘debt-for conservation’ deal

The Seychelles announced two new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) covering 210,000 square kilometers (81,000 square miles), 21 February 2018. The MPAs were created as part of the first ever debt-for-conservation deal, designed by The Nature Conservancy. MPAs includes 74,400 sq. km surrounding the Aldabra Group, and 136,000 sq. km between the Amirantes Group and Fortune Bank. $21.6 million of sovereign debt was purchased at a discount, with repayments now made at more favourable terms to the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT).

For more information, see The Nature Conservancy press release and Marine Spatial Plan Phase 1 documentation.

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Lebanon: USA mediation in maritime boundary dispute with Israel rejected

The President of the Lebanese Parliament has rejected the mediation of the United States of America in the issue with Israel concerning maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea. His declaration may be found here (in Arabic). This follows the exclusive licensing of two oil blocks in a disputed area to a private consortium by the Lebanese Minister of Energy. Yet Israel maintains claims to oil deposits in that region as well. The USA Secretary of State has on this matter affirmed that this “is an extremely important issue to Lebanon” and that “it’s important to Israel as well, to come to some agreement so that private companies can go to work offshore and determine what, in fact, might be available in terms of natural resource development”. One of the members of the consortium that has been licensed by Lebanon to explore blocks in the disputed area affirms that they “are fully aware of the Israeli-Lebanese border dispute in the southern part of the block that covers only very limited area (less than 8% of the block’s surface)”. Their press release may be found here.

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The blocks awarded to the consortium of Total (operator, 40%), ENI (40%) and Novatek (20%) in the frame of the 1st offshore licensing round, launched by the Lebanese government in January 2017. (source: http://www.total.com)

 

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UK: Fisheries management (post-Brexit) POSTnote published

The UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) has published a POSTnote, entitled, UK Fisheries Management, 21 February 2018. The POSTnote focuses on marine capture fisheries, including future challenges.

For more information, see here.

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Vanuatu: negotiations with France on maritime boundaries

Maritime boundary negotiations between Vanuatu and France, which include an unresolved dispute on the sovereignty over the Matthew Island and the Hunter Island, and their respective 190 000 sq km EEZ, are under way. Those islands are claimed by Vanuatu as part of its southernmost Tafea Province since 1929, but France claims them to be part of New Caledonia since 1976 (i.e. prior to Vanuatu’s independence in 1980). According to Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, New Caledonia’s Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste party coalition has now recognized the islands as part of “Vanuatu National Heritage”, opening the door for “dialogue and negotiation between Vanuatu Government and the Government of France on maritime boundaries”. These negotiations are set to happen amidst debate around the referendum on the independence of New Caledonia, scheduled May 2018. The full statement of Vanuatu’s Prime Minister may be found here.

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Map of New Caledonia and Vanuatu, Oceania, featuring Mathhew and Hunter Islands under New Caledonia’s jurisdiction. (Wikimedia Commons)

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USA/Russia: two-way routes in the Bering Strait and Bering Sea jointly proposed

The United States of America, together with the Russian Federation, have proposed a system of two-way routes for vessels to follow in the Bering Strait and Bering Sea. This joint proposal features the establishment of six two-way routes and six precautionary areas. The proposed two-way routes will be voluntary for all domestic and international ships. No additional aids to navigation are being proposed to mark the recommended two-way routes and the routing measures do not limit commercial fishing or subsistence activities. More information is available here

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India: cooperation with ASEAN in the maritime domain envisaged

India and the ASEAN countries have agreed to set up a mechanism on maritime cooperation to counter the common challenges they face in the maritime domain. The information was confirmed at a press briefing press briefing. This intention follows the Delhi declaration of the ASEAN-INDIA commemorative summit, which reaffirmed “the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, maritime safety and security, freedom of navigation and overflight in the region, and other lawful uses of the seas and unimpeded lawful maritime commerce and to promote peaceful resolutions of disputes” and the support of the signatories to the “full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC)”. That declaration may be found here.

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Friends of Ocean Action and High-level Panel on Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy launched

During the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, a multi-stakeholder partnership, Friends of Ocean Action, was announced, 25 January 2018, with the objective “to help shape global action to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14”. For more information, see here.

At the same time, the Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, announced a High-level Panel on Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy, “which will be made up of heads of state and government from a broad range of coastal states, including developing countries”. For more information, see here.

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China: Arctic Policy white paper published

On the 26 January 2018, the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China released a white paper, entitled, China’s Arctic Policy. China defines itself as a “Near-Arctic State” before setting out its policy goals.

For more information see the full text here.

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WCPFC: 14th Regular Session adopts minimum standards for port state measures

The 14th Regular Session of the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) adopted a series of Conservation and Management Measures (CMMs), including CMM 2017-02, Conservation and Management Measure on minimum standards for Port State Measures, issued the 7 December 2017. Bar the provisional application of CMM 2017-01 (1 January 2018), the CMMs are set to enter into force 6 February 2018.

For more information, see here.

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Australia: ship master convicted and fined for entering no-go zone

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.

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Arctic: commercial fishing moratorium agreement signed

The member states of the informal group “Arctic-five” (Canada, USA, Russia, Norway, and Greenland/Denmark), together with representatives of other states (Iceland, Japan, South Korea, China and the European Union)  have reached agreement on a legally binding international agreement that will protect nearly three million square kilometers of the Central Arctic Ocean from unregulated fishing. The initial term of the agreement is 16 years, after which it will automatically be extended every five years unless a country objects or until science-based fisheries quotas and rules are put in place. The NGO Ocean Conservancy has referred to this as an example of the precautionary approach. This accord comes two years after a previously set moratorium. Evidence of this new agreement may be found here: (Canada) (Norway) (EU).

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China: Enhanced inspection on ship pollution for Hainan province

The Ship Pollution Control Implementation Plan of Hainan Province, implemented 3 November 2017 to 3 December 2018, will include a port state inspection campaign. This will be  focused upon compliance with  the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978, Annex VI and the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments.

For more information see here (English translation), and here.

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Argentina: port control system for bulk carriers introduced

The Argentine National Sanitary Authorities (SENASA) has introduced Resolution 693-E/2017, which entered into force on 1 November 2017. This Resolution outlines a control system for the approval of holds/tanks of vessels and barges destined to export grains, its products and by-products. Specific criteria for when to object to or reject holds or tanks, such as the presence of live insects, loose rust scale, excessive humidity, etc., are included. This Resolution shall be applicable to all river and maritime ports. It will initially be in operation for a trial period of 1 year. The Resolution is available here (in Spanish) or here (English translation).

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