Part B Commentary on Judgments and Awards in Maritime Boundary Delimitation Disputes, 6 Canada v. United States of America (Judgment of the Chamber of the International Court of Justice, 12 October 1984)
Stephen Fietta, Robin Cleverly
- Exclusive fishery zone — Coastal states — Continental shelf — Delimitation — Territorial sea — UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea)
The case analyzed in this chapter concerned delimitation of a single maritime boundary in the ‘Gulf of Maine area’. The Gulf is a broad oceanic indentation in the eastern coast of the North American continent, roughly the shape of an elongated rectangle, and bordered on three sides by land and on the fourth by the open Atlantic Ocean. The role of political and economic considerations in the delimitation process is duscussed. This was a case of many firsts: the first delimitation dispute (indeed, the first dispute of any kind) to be referred to a Chamber of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) under Article 26(2) of the ICJ Statute; the first maritime boundary case to be decided after the adoption of UNCLOS; the first time the court had been asked to delimit a single maritime boundary encompassing the continental shelf and exclusive fishery zones; and the first time the court had been charged not just with the enunciation of principles and methods, but also with the delimitation of an actual boundary line. The chapter concludes that the judgment provides a valuable example of the application of three leading methods of delimitation (bisector, adjusted median line, and perpendicular) over the boundary’s three sectors.