- The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982 establishes the rights that nations have at sea and the way in which neighbouring nations limit these rights
- The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world's oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.
- The Kingdom of the Netherlands has undelimited Caribbean maritime boundaries with many states:
- with France (extending both sides of the land border at St Martin, where the western boundary also delimits Saba and French Saint Martin, and the eastern boundary also delimits the three windward Antilles and French Saint Barthélemy)
- with the United Kingdom (between Saba and Anguilla)
- with the United States (between Saba and the American Virgin islands)
- with Saint Kitts and Nevis (between Saint Kitts and St Eustatius)
- with the Dominican Republic (northern boundary of Aruba and Curaçao)
The Caribbean has become a confusing place to administer legally.
By Richard Walker
Where maritime boundaries begin and end is in dispute in many parts of the Caribbean Sea. Some islands are in the EU, some are not. Who owns the fish? And who should police the movement of illicit goods through Caribbean waters?
Slick Caribbean body
The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has been angling for years to put together a body to deal with these questions.
Now, the twin-island Federation of St. Kitts-Nevis has set up a Maritime Boundaries Commission to settle disputes and uncertainties over blurred maritime borders with neighbouring Dutch, British, French and independent islands.
The Commission will spearhead negotiations with the relevant countries on the settlement of maritime boundaries.
The Commission says it will:
- establish the maritime space over which St. Kitts and Nevis will be able to exercise rights as a matter of international law
- provide a stable basis for the better management of fisheries and other marine resources
- set boundaries which will give rise to better control and monitoring of shipping of dangerous and illicit commodities through Caribbean waters
Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs)
EEZs were introduced after the US brought a tuna-fishing complaint against Ecuador to the International Court of Justice.
EEZs were defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982.
EEZs were brought into effect to halt increasingly heated clashes over fishing rights, although oil was also becoming important.
EEZs extend from the edge of the territorial sea out to 200 nautical miles from the shoreline. Within this area, the coastal nation has sole exploitation rights over all natural resources.
The term EEZ includes the territorial sea and even the continental shelf.