The Continental Shelf and Changing Sea Level

TitleThe Continental Shelf and Changing Sea Level
Publication TypeBook Section
AuthorsMayer, LA
EditorNordquist, M, J. Moore, N
Book Title Maritime Boundary Diplomacy, Center for Oceans Law and Policy Series
Series Volume16
Date Published09/2012
PublisherMartinus Nijhoff Publishers
Keywordscontinental shelf; maritime boundaries; Minamitorishima; sea level

This chapter discusses the changes seen in the Arctic and the impact that these changes are having on maritime boundary issues. It looks at how the forces that are driving the changes we are seeing in the Arctic are also having a global impact on maritime boundary issues, raising in particular, issues related to the continental shelf. Global sea level rise has an immediate impact on maritime boundaries through the definition of the baselines from which the maritime zones are measured. Given the potential for a significant rise in sea level and with that, the potential for migrating and potentially disappearing baselines, the chapter discusses the ramification when the continental shelf outer limit is “fixed and binding” and “permanent. The chapter discusses a simple hypothetical case of the small Japanese island, Minamitorishima, in the northwest Pacific located approximately 1150 miles southeast of Tokyo.