1997

ITLOS

The M/V “Saiga” Case Saint Vincent and The Grenadines v. Guinea

M/V Saiga is an oil tanker flying the flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Its charterer at the relevant time was a company registered in Switzerland, the owner of the vessel is an Scottish company. 27 October 1997 M/V Saiga entered the EEZ of Guinea and supplied gasoil to three fishing vessels 28 October 1997 ofter hot pursuit [according to Guinea] the M/V Saiga was arrested at a point south of the maritime boundary of the EEZ of Guinea (in the EEZ of Sierra Leone). In the course of action, two crew members were injured, The M/V Saiga was accused of smuggling according to Guinea’s legislation No bond or security was requested by Guinean authorities for the release of the vessel and its crew or offered by Saint Vincent Guinea and Saint Vincent are both part of UNCLOS November 1977, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines under article 292 UNCLOS instituted proceedings against Guinea concerning prompt release of the M/V Saiga and its crew [Consider article 73 and 292 UNCLOS 1982]

(56) In light of article 73 [UNCLOS, enforcemnt of laws and regulations of the coastal State, exercise of sovereign rights to explores exploit, conserve and manage the living recourses in the EEZ] … the question to be considered can be stated as follows: is “bunkering” (refuelling) of a fishing vessel within the exclusive economic zone of a State to be considered as an activity the regulation of which falls within the scope of the exercise by the coastal State of its “sovereign rights to explore, exploit, conserve and manage the living recourses in the exclusive economic zone”? …. The arrest of a vessel and crew allegedly violating such rule would fall within the scope of article 73, paragraph 1 of the Convention and prompt release of the vessel and crew upon the posting of a reasonable bond or other security would be an obligation of the coastal State under article 73, paragraph 2. In case such prompt release is not effected by the costal State, article 292 could be invoked (61) the pursuit was commenced one day after the alleged violation, at the time when the M/V Saiga was certainly not within the contiguous zone of Guinea (62) However the Tribunal is not called upon to decide whether the arrest of the M/V Saiga was legitimate. It is called upon to determine whether the detention consequent to the arrest is in violation of a provision of the Convention “for the prompt release of the vessel or its crew upon the posting of a reasonable bond or other financial security” (71) [Guinea’s law classified the illicit as a Custom one] The Tribunal is not bound by the classification giving by such State. The Tribunal can… conclude that … the action of Guinea can be seen within the framework of article 73 of the Convention (79) Tribunals find that the application is admissible… allegations made by Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are well founded… and that, consequently, Guinea must release promptly the M/V Saiga