1951

ICJ

Fisheries Case UK v. Norway

British fisherman had made incursions Norway’s water for immemorial times, but since a Norwegian King’s complaint, for 300 years they stopped; in 1906 they appeared again. 1935 Norway by decree delimited fisheries zone. The delimitation took place not from the low-water mark at every point along the coast (normal practice) but from straight baselines linking the outermost points of land). UK claimed that such delimitation was contrary to IL. By using straight baselines Norway enclosed waters that would have been high seas using low water mark. Several lines were over 30 miles long. The straight lines is enshrined in 7.4 1982 UNCLOS

(19) Although the 10-mile rule [as limit on straight lines] has been adopted by certain states in their national law and in their treaties and conventions, and although certain arbitral decisions have applied it as between these states, other states have adopted a different limit. Consequently the 10-mile rule has not acquired the authority of a general rule of IL. (19) In any event, the ten-mile rule would appear to be inapplicable as against Norway inasmuch as she has always opposed any attempt to apply it to Norway coast. (26) Du point de vue du droit international, il convient d'examiner à présent si l'application du système norvégien ne s'est pas heurtée à l'opposition d'États étrangers. (26) La Norvège a pu avancer, sans être contredite, que la promulgation de ses décrets de délimitation en 186 et en 1889 ainsi que leur application n'ont soulevé, de la part des Etats étrangers, aucune opposition. Comme, d'autre part, ces décrets sont, ainsi qu'il a été démontré plus haut, l'application d'un système bien défini et unifié,c'est en définitive ce système lui-même qui aurait bénéficié d'une tolérance générale, fondement d'une consolidation historique qui le rendrait opposable à tous les États. (27) The notoriety of the facts, the general toleration of the international community, Great Britain's position in the North Sea, her own interest in the question, and her prolonged abstention would in any case warrant Norway's enforcement of her system against the United Kingdom. (27) The Court is thus led to conclude that the method of straight lines, established in the Norwegian system, was imposed by the peculiar geography of the Norwegian coast; [rugged] that even before the dispute arose, this method had been consolidated by a constant and sufficiently long practice, in the face of which the attitude of governments bears witness to the fact that they did not consider it to be contrary to international law.