As Guyana continues to guard against illegal claims to its territory, a new Maritime Zones (Internal Waters and River Closing Baselines) Regulations 2015 was presented by Foreign Affairs Minister and Vice President Carl Greenidge to the National Assembly on Thursday.
The regulations prescribe the closing lines across the mouths of the three largest navigable rivers in Guyana and reinforce Guyana’s position on the Law of the Sea.
It also lays out the zones of jurisdiction to which Guyana is entitled and includes its territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, Greenidge explained.
This new regulations come at a time when Guyana’s neighbour, Venezuela has reawakened an age old border controversy and is making fresh claims to Guyana’s oil rich maritime space and exclusive economic zones.
In a brief explanation, Greenidge told the House that the Maritime Zones Act (MZA) of 2010 makes provisions for the Minister to establish these regulations and is intended to capture new developments in international maritime law.
The government enacted these regulations on July 23, in compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea along with the MZA.
The Minister explained “baselines constitute a fundamental aspect of the regime of zones of jurisdiction established by UNCLOS, since the breadth of the maritime zones under national jurisdiction is to be measured from the baselines.”
The baseline is also the line which establishes the outer limit of the internal waters in which the state exercises its full sovereignty.
“It therefore means that the proper implementation of the baseline provisions of the Convention by coastal States through, inter alia, their national legislation, will play an important role in the achievement of an adequate balance between the maritime interests of coastal States and those of the international community,” the Minister added.
He said too that Guyana has an obligation under international law to properly delimit its internal waters.