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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BRIDGETOWN635
2006-04-12 18:05:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Bridgetown
Cable title:  

WIN-WIN OR LOSE-LOSE: MARITIME BORDER DISPUTE

Tags:   PBTS  EWWT  ETRD  EPET  PHSA  TT  BB  GY  VE  XL 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO1345
PP RUEHGR
DE RUEHWN #0635/01 1021805
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 121805Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2272
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1405
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE PRIORITY 0809
RUEHCV/USDAO CARACAS VE PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J5 MIAMI FL PRIORITY
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRIDGETOWN 000635 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PBTS EWWT ETRD EPET PHSA TT BB GY VE XL
SUBJECT: WIN-WIN OR LOSE-LOSE: MARITIME BORDER DISPUTE
RESOLVED?




1. (U) SUMMARY: On April 11, the Permanent Court of
Arbitration in The Hague handed down its ruling finally
establishing a single maritime boundary between Barbados and
Trinidad and Tobago. The new border differs from those
claimed by each of the parties in their pleadings, yet both
countries are claiming victory. The decision also affirms
Barbados' right to explore hydrocarbon reserves beyond its
previous Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Arbitral
Tribunal declined to render a decision on a fisheries regime,
obligating Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago to negotiate in
good faith an agreement which will ensure the conservation
and development of wildlife, while according Barbadian
fisherfolk access to fisheries within Trinidad and Tobago's
EEZ. End Summary.



2. (U) In an April 11 press release, the Permanent Court of
Arbitration in the Hague announced its ruling on the two-year
maritime boundary case between the governments of Barbados
(GOB) and Trinidad and Tobago (GOTT). The ruling established
a single maritime boundary which differs from the claims of
both parties.

HISTORY


--------------------------





3. (U) Barbados initiated arbitration proceedings on
February 16, 2004, after the arrest of two Barbadian
fishermen and the confiscation of their catch by GOTT Coast
Guard officers who charged them with fishing illegally in
GOTT waters, putting an end to ongoing fisheries
negotiations. At the real heart of the quarrel, however, is
access to and exploitation rights for oil and gas resources
in the largest portion of the disputed area, some 30,000
square miles.



4. (U) A dispute of this nature is not surprising, since the
proximity of these island states locates them within each
other's EEZ. An EEZ is a seazone over which a state has
special rights over the exploration and use of marine
resources, generally defined as 200 nautical miles out from
its coast, except where it would encroach on another
country's territorial waters (12 nautical miles).
Demarcation agreements are common in the international
fishing industry, but enforcement is limited to the
capabilities of individual countries to police their
territory. Violations are commonplace.

RESULTS


--------------------------





5. (U) The boundary set by the Arbitral Tribunal seems to
represent an equitable compromise. Beginning at the
previously agreed median line, it extends north-west in favor
of Trinidad and Tobago's claim and south-east in favor of
Barbados' claim. It also minimally extends GOTT's
continental shelf to the south-east where it meets with
Venezuela's maritime boundary, giving GOTT claim to an
additional 315 nautical miles. This apportionment is in
contrast to the 30,000 square nautical miles of seabed
claimed in GOTT's original proposal.



6. (U) The Tribunal held that it lacked jurisdiction to
render a substantive decision regarding the fisheries
dispute, and charged GOTT and GOB to come to an agreement
which would "ensure conservation and development of
flyingfish stocks, and to negotiate in good faith and
conclude an agreement that will accord fisherfolk of Barbados
access to fisheries with the Exclusive Economic Zone of
Trinidad and Tobago."

IN YOUR FACE


--------------------------





7. (U) Media reports say that both countries are claiming
total victory in the resolution, although both have lost
ground on their original objectives. Trinidad media reports
are touting the decision as "historic," claiming that it
confirms the "integrity of the unitary state of Trinidad and
Tobago," and that Barbados claims to historic and fundamental
access to fisheries off of Tobago were unsubstantiated.
Barbados media reports that the GOB is claiming a "99
percent" victory, noting that Trinidad and Tobago's claim to
nearly 30,000 square nautical miles was denied, giving the
GOTT only 1 percent of what they were seeking and Barbados

BRIDGETOWN 00000635 002 OF 002


exclusive right to exploit hydrocarbon reserves under the
seabed in its EEZ.

ALL ABOUT OIL


--------------------------





8. (U) The real gain for Barbados is in oil exploration
rights; it has already begun courting international oil
companies, including ESSO and Shell, to begin talks on
developing these resources. Barbados' goal is to supplement
its current production rate of 1200 barrels per day,
ultimately aiming to meet its consumption rate of 8000
barrels per day.

COMMENT


--------------------------





9. (U) While shrouded in claims of ancient fishing rites and
territorial unity, this dispute is more about oil exploration
than traditional fishing holes. Both parties still need to
negotiate fishing rights agreements, and despite an initially
triumphant response from Trinidad, an amicable bilateral
agreement regarding fishing rights is unlikely in the near
term. Additionally, Barbados officials believe this case
could set the precedent for future maritime claims, such as
that of Guyana against Venezuela.
KRAMER