The Strait of Messina separates the Italian island of Sicily from Italy mainland.(See 34.) This strait is considered an article 38(1) strait under the termsof the which provides an exemption from the transit passageregime for those straits connecting one part of the / and anotherpart of the high seas/EEZ where the strait is formed by an island of a Statebordering the strait and its mainland and there exists seaward of the islanda route through the high seas or EEZ of similar convenience with respect tonavigational and hydrographical characteristics. Effective April 3, 1985, the Government of Italy closed the strait to vessels10,000 tons and over carrying oil and other pollutants. This action was takenfollowing a collision at resulting in an oil spill in the area. The United Statessubmitted a diplomatic note to Italy on April 5, 1985, making the followingobservations:As the Government of the United States understands it, this decree is not intendedto apply to warships or other governmental ships on non-commercial service exercisingthe right of .It is the understanding of the Government of the United States that this prohibitionon navigation through the Strait of Messina by specified vessels . . . isintended to give the Government of Italy time in which to formulate proposalsfor the regulation of traffic in the strait.The Government of the United States wishes to make clear that the Strait ofMessina is a strait used for international navigation, to which, in accordance withcustomary international law as reflected in the 1982 United Nations Conventionon the , the regime of non-suspendable innocent passage applies.The regime of innocent passage is one that may be exercised by vessels of all States,regardless of type or cargo. By purporting to prohibit navigation through the Straitof Messina by vessels of specified size carrying specified cargo, the Government ofItaly appears to be attempting to suspend the right of innocent passage for suchvessels, in contravention of long.settled customary and conventional internationallaw. The Government of the United States therefore reserves its rights and thoseof its nationals in this regard. . . .The Government of the United States recognizes that, in accordance with internationallaw as reflected in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Lawof the Sea, the has certain authority to prescribe sea lanes and trafficseparation schemes that must be used by vessels exercising the right of innocentpassage, especially tankers and other ships carrying dangerous substances.The coastal State does not, of course, have authority respecting areas of the highseas. To the extent that a coastal State has such authority in its the Government of the United States notes the important role to be played by theInternational Maritime Organization in the designation of such sea lanes and theprescription of traffic separation schemes. The Government of the United Statesnotes that the decree announced by the Government of Italy refers to regulation8 of chapter V of the annex to the International Convention for the Safety ofLife at Sea, 1974, which reiterates the importance of the International…

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