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Sea Level Rise and Shifting Maritime Jurisdictional Limits

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Presentation on theme: "Sea Level Rise and Shifting Maritime Jurisdictional Limits"— Presentation transcript:

1 Sea Level Rise and Shifting Maritime Jurisdictional Limits
Clive Schofield Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS)

2 Sea Level Rise IPCC’s estimated range of sea level rise: m by the end of the century? Growing consensus that this estimate is overly conservative Great uncertainty over the critical questions of how much and how quickly?

3 Maritime Jurisdictions Zones
(Extended Continental Shelf) The Area Continental Shelf Sea-bed, Subsoil, Sedentary Species Territorial Sea Baseline Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Water Column, Sea-bed, Subsoil High Sea Internal waters Contiguous zone 12 M 200 M Territorial sea 12 M © 2008 Sea Level Shelf Upper Plateu Slope or Terrace Lower Rise Deep Slope Ocean

4 Migrating Baselines = Shifting Limits
Maritime jurisdictional limits measured from baselines: Predominantly normal baselines, low-water line baselines Traditional interpretation: ambulatory baselines and consequently shifting limits Coastlines dynamic – low water line susceptible to change As normal baselines move, the limits drawn from them also shift Not a new phenomenon As sea level rises so the low-water line migrates inland Dramatic horizontal shifts to normal baselines possible from slight changes to sea level vertically

5 Critical basepoints may be unstable or ephemeral insular features
Impacts on Islands Sea level rise/shifting baselines will also impact on the classification of insular features Most common normal baseline used, Lowest Astronomical Tide (LAT) – a very low low water line Critical basepoints may be unstable or ephemeral insular features Vulnerable to sea level rise leading to downgrading of islands to mere rocks or low-tide elevations Impact on capacity to generate claims to maritime jurisdiction

6 Implications for: Implications
Extent and limits of maritime claims Enforcement issues Delimitation of maritime boundaries Loss of jurisdiction over vital marine resources Jurisdictional uncertainty Potential for conflict

7 Fix normal baselines physically
Potential Responses Fix normal baselines physically Can key basepoints be preserved through sea defences, ‘building-up’ and/or reclamation? Long tradition and an option for critical basepoints but unrealistic for long coastlines? Fix normal baselines legally Fix the limits of maritime zones

8 Okinotorishima: Maritime Claims

9 Okinotorishima

10 Okinotorishima

11 Physical defences unrealistic for long coastlines?

12 Fix Normal Baselines Legally
Choice of chart depicting normal baseline left up to the coastal State (LOSC, Article 5) Chart the legal document Can a coastal State therefore choose a chart that is advantageous to it? What if there is a difference between the low water line shown on the chart and reality? The drafters of the Convention did not anticipate sea level rise BUT: Ambulatory baselines may be fixed with straight baselines on unstable coasts Connection to the low water line still required

13 Fixing Limits and Boundaries
Once agreed maritime boundaries remain fixed even though the baselines used to construct them may regress What if the territory in question disappears entirely? The outer limits of the continental shelf may also be fixed as “final and binding” Fix (declare) maritime limits Provides the advantage of certainty and the preservation of existing maritime claims BUT: Increasing tension between fixed limit and receding or disappearing normal baseline it is measured from

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