The establishment of continental shelf zones and exclusive economic zones
(EEZs) considerably increased the number and length of the maritime
boundaries between coastal states. A 1983 survey identified some 376
international maritime boundaries between 137 coastal states around the
globe. In 1988, the US Department of State gave a figure of 412 demarcations
required. Eventually, additional boundaries arose due to the advent
of new states and the breaking-up of the Soviet Union. Yet another
generation of boundaries will result from climate change and accessibility
to resources in the Arctic waters.
Since 1945, in particular, many studies have been written in the field of maritime delimitation. Most of them have focused on the case law. In fact, as is shown in the bibliography, there are many articles relating to international judgments in this field. Since it has been argued that the law of maritime delimitation has developed through international jurisprudence, it was only natural that writers turned to the analysis of case law in this field.
MARITIME SPACES IN international law of the sea are, in essence, defined in relation to the coastal State jurisdiction over each maritime space. Thus, coastal State jurisdiction is the primary criterion in characterising maritime spaces. The ambit of coastal State jurisdiction is in principle defined spatially, based on distance from the coast. According to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the territorial sea in which a coastal State exercises territorial sovereignty shall not exceed 12 nautical miles measured from the relevant baseline (Article 3). The contiguous zone over which a limited jurisdiction is exercised by the coastal State may not extend beyond 24 nautical miles from that line (Article 33). The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), where the coastal State may exercise sovereign rights regarding the exploration and exploitation of natural resources, shall not extend beyond 200 nautical miles (Article 57). The same is in principle true for continental shelves of less than 200 nautical miles (Article 76(1)). It would seem safe to say that these rules have now become customary law. Hence, the definition of the spatial extent of coastal State jurisdiction is at the heart of the international law of the sea.