DELIMITING U. S. BASELINES FOR MEASURING OFFSHORE ZONES

THE COASTLINE OF THE UNITED STATES IS LONG AND COMPLEX, WITH MANY IRREGULARITIES SUCH AS BAYS, OFFSHORE ROCKS AND ISLANDS, AND "DRYING" FEATURES SUCH AS ROCKS AND BANKS. THESE IRREGULARITIES GREATLY COMPLICATE THE TASK OF DELIMITING BASELINES ALONG THE COAST FROM WHICH TO MEASURE THE OUTER LIMITS OF THE TERRITORIAL SEA AND CONTIGUOUS ZONE, AND THE BOUNDARIES ON THE SEABED BETWEEN STATE AND FEDERAL LEASING AREAS. THE 1958 GENEVA CONVENTION ON THE TERRITORIAL SEA AND THE CONTIGUOUS ZONE SPELLS OUT THE PROCEDURE FOR BASELINE DELIMITATION FOR MEASURING THE TERRITORIAL SEA, ALTHOUGH IN THREE INSTANCES, THERE IS FLEXIBILITY IN INTERPRETATION. A FIRST IS THE REFERENCE TO THE "NATURAL ENTRANCE POINTS" OF A BAY, BETWEEN WHICH A CLOSING LINE (NOT TO EXCEED TWENTY FOUR MILES IN LENGTH) MAY BE DRAWN. OFTEN THERE ARE SEVERAL "ENTRANCE POINTS" TO CHOOSE FROM. SECOND, THE GENEVA CONVENTION PROVIDES FOR THE USE OF A STRAIGHT BASELINE REGIME ALONG RUGGED COASTS - A PROCEDURE WHICH THE UNITED STATES HAS NOT CHOSEN TO ADOPT. THIRD, THERE IS REFERENCE TO "HISTORIC BAYS" ACROSS WHOSE MOUTHS CLOSING LINES GREATER THAN TWENTY- FOUR MILES IN LENGTH MAY BE DRAWN. AGAIN, THE UNITED STATES HAS NOT CHOSEN TO LAY CLAIM TO ANY BAYS GREATER THAN TWENTY-FOUR MILES IN BREADTH AT THEIR ENTRANCE AS BEING HISTORIC IN NATURE. ALTHOUGH IN PRINCIPLE THE BOUNDARY DIVIDING STATE FROM FEDERAL LEASING AREAS ON THE SEABED SHOULD BE THE SAME AS THE OUTER LIMITS OF THE TERRITORIAL SEA, THERE ARE IN FACT STRONG ARGUMENTS FOR "FREEZING" CERTAIN AMBULATORY SHORELINES- AS IN THE LOUISIANA DELTA AREA FOR MEASUREMENT PURPOSES. SUCH SHORELINE BOUNDARIES COULD BE FIXED AS OF SOME AGREED-UPON DATE, AND FROM THIS LINE OFFSHORE LEASING AREAS COULD BE DELIMITED. AN INTERAGENCY GROUP OF THE U. S. GOVERNMENT'S LAW OF THE SEA TASK FORCE IS NOW ENGAGED IN DELIMITING A PROVISIONAL BOUNDARY ALONG THE NATION'S COAST FROM WHICH THE OUTER LIMITS OF OFFSHORE ZONES CAN BE MEASURED. SOME OF THE PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED BY THIS GROUP WILL BE ANALYZED. /AUTHOR/

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • pp 619, 786-791
  • Authors:
    • Alexander, L M
  • Publication Date: 1971-3

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00202902
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: pp 782-785
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 8 1971 12:00AM