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The disputed maritime zones around Svalbard

The disputed maritime zones around Svalbard

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Original languageEnglish
TitleChanges in the Arctic environment and the law of the sea
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Publication date2010
Pages551-593
Number of pages43
ISBN (Print)9789004177567
StatePublished

Publication series

NameChanges in the Arctic environment and the law of the sea
PublisherBrill/Martinus Nijhoff

Abstract

Before the First World War the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard was a terra nullius. Under a treaty of 1920 Norway’s sovereignty over Svalbard was recognised, while the other States parties to the Treaty were accorded equal rights to carry on certain economic activities, including fishing and mining, in Svalbard’s territorial waters. By virtue of its sovereignty, Norway is entitled to establish the full range of maritime zones in respect of Svalbard. It has established a 12-mile territorial sea and a 200-mile fishery protection zone (rather than an Exclusive Economic Zone) around Svalbard. Svalbard also has a continental shelf, extending beyond 200 miles in places. The Norwegian government argues that the equal rights of fishing and mining do not apply beyond the territorial sea, whereas a number of other States parties take the opposite view. This paper examines both sets of arguments, and reaches the conclusion that there is no clear-cut answer to the question. The final part of the paper suggests various ways in which the dispute between Norway and other States parties over the geographical application of the Treaty could be resolved.

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