Wednesday 17 July 2019
On 23 July, the Bailiwick of Guernsey's territorial seas will increase in size giving the jurisdictions of Guernsey, Alderney and Sark more rights and control over larger areas and bringing them in line with international norms for the extent of territorial seas.
The current limit of the Bailiwick's territorial seas is 3 nautical miles (nm) from the baselines. Following decisions in each of the islands earlier this year to request extension of the territorial seas, the new limit will be 12 nm, which is the maximum extent now permissible under the international law of the sea. The territorial sea would extend to less than 12 nm wherever the distance between the baselines of the Bailiwick and the baselines of another party (France or Jersey) is less than 24 nm.
The extension of the territorial seas gives the three jurisdictions of the Bailiwick greater control over activities in the 3-12 nm area as they will have legislative competence and corresponding law enforcement powers in their corresponding area. It brings the Bailiwick in line with international norms, and gives it the same breadth of territorial seas as the UK, Jersey and the Isle of Man. The extension of the territorial seas will not increase the number and type of responsibilities but it will, self-evidently, mean that a larger area has to be managed by the Bailiwick's authorities. Existing search and rescue regional operational arrangements and existing pollution incident plans are unaffected by the expansion of the territorial seas. The jurisdictions of the Bailiwick recognise and value the historic and continuing links with regional neighbours and will continue the good neighbour policy now that the Bailiwick's territorial seas abut those of France and Jersey. The extension of the territorial seas will ensure that there is clarity about the status of the waters adjacent to the islands of the Bailiwick, which is particularly important as the UK exits the EU.
In general, there is an automatic extension of applicable Bailiwick legislation to the 12 nm limit, with the exception of some fishing legislation. Fishing access in the waters around the Bailiwick, from 0 to 12 nautical miles, will remain unchanged on the date of extension. The UK's participation in the London Fisheries Convention (or 'LFC') will continue until the UK ceases to be a Member State of the European Union. The Bailiwick fisheries management regime will also remain the same as it was before extension until any new regime is subsequently agreed between the Bailiwick authorities.
Deputy Al Brouard, member of the Policy & Resources Committee with responsibility for Bailiwick matters (Guernsey), said:
'I am delighted that Guernsey will extend its territorial sea next week, together with Alderney and Sark. Our islands have been working closely together to achieve this, including through the Bailiwick Council. This joint approach has enabled us to claim the marine area to the maximum limit permitted by the international law of the sea, bringing us in line with international norms and giving us more control over activities there. I believe the extension of Guernsey's territorial sea is a significant step on a journey to ensure that the status of the seas around our shores reflects both our proud maritime history and our developing international identity.'
Mr James Dent, Chairman of the Policy & Finance Committee, Alderney, said:
'The enlargement of Alderney's territorial sea means both the enhancement of economic opportunities and an increase in our marine management responsibilities and controls, as for the other jurisdictions of the Bailiwick. Our marine plan helps us to identify, understand and manage activities in the marine environment and provides evidence that the waters around Alderney are valued and well managed. The islands of the Bailiwick have worked closely together to achieve the extension of our territorial seas and we welcome the opportunity that it provides for the islands individually and collectively to protect, enhance and benefit from the waters surrounding us.'
Conseiller Peter La Trobe-Bateman, Chairman of the Policy & Finance Committee, Sark, said:
'The expansion of the area of Sark's territorial sea is a significant development which gives us more rights and control over the marine environment adjacent to us. We, together with Guernsey and Alderney, recognise, value and respect the sea and the opportunities provided by its natural resources. The seas around us are an important part of our identity as an island and as islanders and it makes sense that we will now expand our legislative competence to the 12 nm limit. The view from our coast will not be altered by this change in designation of the sea, but it is important to our economic outlook and our longer-term vision to manage our seas effectively and responsibly.'