JAMAICA'S AMBASSADOR to the United States Stephen Vasciannie has said the Caribbean Sea is, in effect, owned by the neighbouring states that encircle the semi-enclosed sea of the Caribbean.
Vasciannie, who delivered the keynote lecture at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC, was addressing the question, "Who owns the Caribbean Sea?" as he set out the main rules in the Law of the Sea Convention dealing with ownership of living and non-living resources.
He noted that, in the Law of the Sea, ownership was determined mainly by the distance principle.
"Countries own parts of the sea on the basis of proximity. So, for example, Jamaica's territorial sea is that part of the Caribbean Sea stretching 12 miles from the country's baseline," Vasciannie explained.
He also considered the rules relating to the various zones of the Caribbean Sea, and discussed maritime cases concerning the Caribbean.
In the course of the presentation, Vasciannie expanded on the ownership features inherent in each of the modern zones of the sea and emphasised that, in their internal waters and territorial seas, each Caribbean country had strong ownership rights. He also noted that when the coastal state has ownership rights it also has duties with respect to the waters in question.
The ambassador also pointed out certain features of the Caribbean Sea, a semi-enclosed sea within the terms of the Law of the Sea Convention. These features include a significant number of archipelagic States, several sovereign States bordering in close proximity to each other, and limited fish stocks in some areas close to particular coastal States.
Exclusive Economic Zone
"Because most States in the Caribbean Sea are close to others, they cannot normally claim a full Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 miles width," the ambassador pointed out. "And this is important, for the Exclusive Economic Zone contemplates full ownership rights over non-living resources (e.g. oil), and significant ownership rights over living resources," Vasciannie noted.
The ambassador also reviewed aspects of the Law of the Sea Convention concerning the movement of nuclear waste through the Caribbean Sea, and also pointed out that the Caribbean Sea has several archipelagic States, which have special status in the law of the sea.
At the lecture, Executive Director of the Inter-American Development Bank for the Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, Kurt Kisto, issued a call for greater protection of the global commons and for greater concern for the sea.
Full Caption: President and founder of the Institute of Caribbean Studies, Dr Claire Nelson (right) has the rapt attention of ambassador of Jamaica to the United States Stephen Vasciannie and executive director of the Inter-American Development Bank for the Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, Kurt Kisto, at the Inter-American Bank headquarters prior to a lecture presented by Ambassador Vasciannie on 'Who owns the Caribbean Sea' last week. - CONTRIBUTED