Thursday, September 8, 2011

Guyana files submission with the CLCS

On 6 September 2011 Guyana filed the 57th submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (all 57 submissions are identified on the CLCS website).

The Executive Summary of the submission, available here, indicates that Guyana submits "data and information concerning the outer limits of the continental shelf along the northern part of its continental margin for the consideration of the CLCS without prejudice to any potential boundary delimitations with any other States which may be conducted at a later date."*

Thus, any potential boundary delimitation with Guyana's neighbor to the north, Venezuela, will not be prejudiced by the submission or any eventual Commission recommendation (Venezuela is not a party to the Law of the Sea Convention).  Whether or not the neighboring state is a party to the Convention, such provisions are standard in submissions to the CLCS when the submitting state has unresolved boundaries or potential boundary issues with neighboring states. The Law of the Sea Convention (art. 76, para. 10, and Annex II, art. 9) makes clear that the Commission's role is not to address any such boundary issues, but rather only to consider the data regarding the extent of the continental shelf without prejudice to such issues.
From Guyana's Executive Summary, p. 16: "Figure 1. The outer limits of the continental shelf of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana (red line) beyond 200 nautical miles (black line) measured from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured according to paragraph 7 determined by straight lines not exceeding 60 nautical miles in length, connecting fixed points, defined by coordinates of latitude and longitude."
Consideration of Guyana's submission will be part of the Commission's provisional agenda for the 29th session of the CLCS, scheduled to meet in New York in March/April 2012.  The last submission to the Commission was by Madagascar in April 2011.

*emphasis not in original

UPDATE October 1, 2011: Guyana and Venezuela sign agreement pledging to "negotiate the delimitation of maritime boundaries between the two States."

Icebreaking into the Arctic

The USCGC HEALY embarked Barrow, Alaska, in August 2008 to map the US extended continental shelf, or ECS, in the Arctic Ocean (HLY 0805). Healy sailed again from 7 August to 16 September, 2009 (HLY 0905) to continue ECS mapping, joining with the Canadian icebreaker, the Louis S. St.-Laurent. The two vessels mapped together again in 2010 (see HLY1002) and 2011 (HLY1102).

As the only law professor on the science crew, I was along on HLY 0805 and 0905 to better understand
the science behind the legal process that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea establishes for states making ECS submissions. As to why the US is mapping now, even though it has not yet acceded to the Convention, read on both here, and in the Law of the Sea notes below.

Thanks to
Vermont Law School and especially to Larry Mayer, Director of the University of New Hampshire's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, for making my part in the trip possible.
Thanks, as well, to Adriane Colburn, for opening new windows on and for the deep.