The North Atlantic Coast Fisheries Case (Great Britain / United States of America), fact and decision

Whereas a Special Agreement between the United States of America and Great Britain, signed at Washington the 27th January, 1909, and confirmed by interchange of Notes dated the 4th March, 1909, was concluded in conformity with the provisions of the General Arbitration Treaty between the United States of America and Great Britain, signed the 4th April, 1908, and ratified the 4th June, 1908; And whereas the said Special Agreement for the submission of questions relating to fisheries on the North Atlantic Coast under the general treaty of arbitration concluded between the United States and Great Britain on the 4th day of April, 1908.

Pursuant to Article I of a Convention entered into on October 20, 1818, Great Britain and the United States of America agreed that U.S. inhabitants would forever have the same rights as British subjects to engage in all types of fishing on a specified part of the British coastline of Newfoundland and Labrador. Along the same coastline, U.S. inhabitants were forever entitled to dry and cure fish in all bays, harbours and creeks. In turn the United States of America renounced all other fishing rights by inhabitants within three nautical miles of the coast of the British dominions in America, except for the above and except for a right to enter bays and harbours solely for the purposes of shelter, repairs, wood purchases, and obtaining water.

A number of disputes arose between the two governments concerning the interpretation of this Article, including inter alia, the right to employ non-US residents in fishing crews, the imposition of customs and other duties, the definition of the term ‘bay’, and the method by which the three-mile limit of the territorial sea was to be measured from the relevant coastline.

In the course of its decision, the Tribunal addressed the question of when a coastal indentation is to be considered a bay and, in particular, the conditions under which bays may be closed off with straight baselines for the purpose of measuring the territorial sea. The Tribunal rejected the argument that baselines more than ten miles long were not permitted.

Award or other decision

Award of the Tribunal download | 07 September 1910 | English | 262.27KB

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