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The Maritime Border Areas of Ireland, North and South: An Assessment of Present Jurisdictional Ambiguities and International Precedents Relating to Delimitation of 'Border Bays'

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image of The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law

Since the time of Partition of the island of Ireland in the 1920s, there have, for good political reasons (such as particularly the pre-Belfast Agreement Irish claim to all the territorial waters around Northern Ireland), been no agreed international maritime boundaries between either jurisdiction North or South: either in the two border bays lying to the north-west and north-east of the land boundary (Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough, respectively) or in regard to the lateral boundaries extending further seawards from these loughs. Nor have any official closing lines been agreed to indicate that the two border bays contain internal waters. The past lack of maritime boundaries has been mitigated in the more recent past by the unique cross-border jurisdiction relating to fisheries in Lough Foyle from 1952, as now extended under the Belfast Agreement to Carlingford Lough, through the enhanced joint regime administered through the Loughs Agency (part of a North-South body). However, for other jurisdictional purposes, such as criminal law enforcement, security, and planning aspects for marine uses such as windfarming, the lack of territorial sea/internal waters boundaries has led to Anglo-Irish problems and jurisdictional vacuums. This article looks at the past and present of such jurisdictional problems—including those relating to the new Loughs Agency—in the light of border bay precedents elsewhere in the world, and suggests maritime boundary solutions which might be mutually adopted

Affiliations: 1: Marine Law and Ocean Policy Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland; Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland


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