The Gulf of Maine Boundary Dispute and Transboundary Management Challenges: Lessons for the Aegean?

  • David VanderZwaag
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


Some might question the relevance of the Gulf of Maine boundary dispute between Canada and the United States over the shared ocean waters off their Atlantic coasts to the Aegean Sea context. Canada and the United States have largely resolved their dispute through adjudication before a Chamber of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which drew a boundary line in October 1984,1 while Greece and Turkey have disagreed on resort to third-party resolution.2 Canada and the United States are noted for friendly relations, sharing a common language and a free trade relationship,3 while Greece and Turkey have faced political and military confrontations and major cultural differences.4 The Aegean Sea is notorious for its difficult maritime delimitation complexities, posed in part by numerous Greek islands close to Turkish shores,5 while the Gulf of Maine in comparison displays a ‘simple geography’.6


Maine Case Maritime Boundary Boundary Dispute Maritime Delimitation Australian Island 
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  1. 2.
    See Andrew Wilson, The Aegean Dispute (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, Adelphi Paper, No. 155, 1979).Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    J. M. Van Dyke, ‘The role of the islands in delimiting maritime zones: the boundary between Turkey and Greece’, in Yuksel Soylemez, ed., The Aegean Issues: Problems and Prospects (Ankara: Foreign Policy Institute, 1989), 263–84.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    For a review of abundance of market and non-market species on Georges Bank and the increase of spiny dogfish and skates to about 70 per cent of total finfish biomass in light of fishing efforts, see E. B. Cohen and R. W. Langton, ‘The ecological consequences of fishing in the Gulf of Maine’, in D. W. Townsend and P. L. Larsen, eds, The Gulf of Maine: Proceedings of a Seminar Held May 22, 1989, Washington, D.C. (Washington, DC: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 1992), 58–60.Google Scholar
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    For a review of the history see D. L. VanderZwaag, The Fish Feud: The US and Canadian Boundary Dispute (Lexington: Lexington Books, 1983).Google Scholar
  5. 25.
    J. Schneider, ‘The Gulf of Maine case: the nature of an equitable result’, American Journal of International Law, 79 (1985), 539–77, at 539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See statement of Davis Robinson, Legal Advisor, Department of State, in L. M. Alexander, ed., The Gulf of Maine Case: An International Discussion (St. Paul: West Publishing Company, 1988), 71.Google Scholar
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    For a good discussion of the perceived benefits, see D. R. Robinson, D. A. Colson, and B. C. Rashkaw, ‘Some perspectives on adjudicating before the World Court: The Gulf of Maine Case’, American Journal of International Law, 79 (1985), 578–9, 581–2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    For a further review of the dispute, see S. Nichols, The Gulf of Maine Boundary: Reviewing the Issues, Occasional Paper No. 12 (Fredericton: Cadastral Studies, 1982), 4–6.Google Scholar
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    As discussed in D. Pharand, ‘Delimitation of maritime boundaries: Continental shelf and exclusive economic zone, in light of the Gulf of Maine case, Canada v. United States (1984)’, Revue générale de droit, 16 (1985), 363–86, at 380; and Gulf of Maine Judgment, 327–8, para. 196.Google Scholar
  10. 70.
    For overviews of the treaty provisions, see H. Burmester, ‘The Torres Strait treaty: Ocean boundary delimitation by agreement’, American Journal of International Law, 76 (1982); 321–49;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. and S. Kaye, Australia’s Maritime Boundaries (Wollongong: Centre for Maritime Policy, 1995), 101–38.Google Scholar
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    See T. L. McDorman, P. M. Saunders, and D. VanderZwaag, ‘The Gulf of Maine Boundary: Dropping anchor or setting a course?’ Marine Policy, 9(2) (1985), 90–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 81.
    For a review of activities pursuant to the agreement, see A. Chircop, D. VanderZwaag, and P. Muskat, ‘The Gulf of Maine Agreement and Action Plan: A novel but nascent approach to transboundary marine environmental protection’, Marine Policy, 19(4) (1995), 317–33. The North American Commission for Environmental Co-operation is further assisting the region in implementing the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities, and a regional workshop was held in Durham, New Hampshire in November 1996 to consider priorities for action.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. See J. Pederson and D. VanderZwaag, Sustaining Resources in the Gulf of Maine: Toward Regional Management Actions (Working Paper) (Montreal: Commission for Environmental Co-operation, 1997).Google Scholar
  16. 82.
    See P. B. Payoyo, Cries of the Sea: World Inequity, Sustainable Development and the Common Heritage of Humanity (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1997).Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • David VanderZwaag

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