Cuba and Bahamas Negotiate Maritime Boundaries
On June 10, 2009, a delegation of technical experts from various ministries, accompanied by a consultant on maritime delimitations met in Havana, Cuba.
They exchanged views and scientific and legal information that will form the framework for the determination of an equitable boundary between the parties in accordance with the relevant principles of international law, stated the Ministry.
Although the primary purpose of the negotiations to delimit a boundary, other areas of mutual interest were identified for discussions, many of which are mandated by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in the context of maritime delimitations, the Ministry said.
These include matters such as cooperation in search and rescue, the combating of illegal trafficking in drugs and migrants, technical cooperation in areas such as hydrography and maritime scientific research, and in the management of trans-boundary resources - fisheries, oil and gas deposits.
The recent meeting was the latest in a series of discussions on delimitation between The Bahamas and Cuba that began in the 1990s. A further round is scheduled to take place within months, the Ministry said.
“Both parties emphasised the long-standing links of friendship, respect and cooperation that exists between them, and it is within that framework that the parties hope to eventually conclude an agreement that would be mutually beneficial and acceptable,” the Ministry said.
The issue of maritime delimitation has taken on new importance for The Bahamas following the proclamation of straight archipelagic baselines in December 2008, the Ministry said.
These have been deposited with the United Nations, as required by UNCLOS, and enacted into domestic law by the Archipelagic Waters and Maritime Jurisdiction (Archipelagic Baselines) Order.
“This means that the baseline from which the different maritime zones of The Bahamas are now to be measured is a line encircling all the islands and cays of the Bahamian archipelago, as opposed to the low-water mark around the individual islands,” said the Ministry.
“Naturally, where those maritime zones overlap with those of neighbouring states, UNCLOS requires the parties to agree their boundaries by negotiations or otherwise according to international law.”
Other neighbouring states with which The Bahamas will eventually pursue boundary negotiations include the United States, the United Kingdom (on behalf of the Turks & Caicos Islands) and Haiti.
Source: South Florida Caribbean News