Maritime boundary delimitation began in earnest soon after World War Two as the quest for hydrocarbon resources extended progressively offshore. In the half century since 1950 rather more than one third of the world’s potential international maritime boundaries have been agreed. Estimates of the potential number vary somewhat, but in 2000 it was approximately 430. The number has risen in recent years with the creation of several new coastal states such as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea coast. At the millennium there were some 160 formal agreements delimiting maritime boundaries between states, or 37 per cent of the estimated potential number. As the product of 50 years or more of delimitation endeavour this seems rather slow progress, averaging just over three agreements per annum. The number of annual agreements peaked during the 1970s while the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea was in progress. At the present rate it could take another 70 years before the bulk of the world’s maritime boundaries are in place. By that time the international community might have devised new ways of managing ocean space, and there may also be a number of new states eligible for a share of the seabed.
KeywordsContinental Shelf Continental Margin Coastal State Continental Shelf Gulf ofMexico
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