The Bering Sea Maritime Delimitation Dispute

by Camille M. Antinori, Int Trade Administration, Washington, DC, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '87


A treaty forged in friendship is now the subject of dispute between two rival superpowers. The 1867 Convention Treaty in which Russia ceded Northwestern America to the United States for 7,200,000 in gold divides the Bering Sea along a southwesterly axis. Today, a dispute arises because of the phenomenon by which the shortest distance between two points is not a straight line when the two points lie on the surface of the globe. Two legitimate methods of connecting the two points of latitude and longitude described in the treaty are the rhumb line and arcs of great circle methods. However, the discrepancy in plotting the two lines on the globe overlaps 15,000 square nautical miles of potential hydrocarbon bearing subsoil of the Bering Sea. This paper discusses the subject in terms of what is at stake, legal implications, and options.

Subject Headings: Seas and oceans | Dispute resolution | Mapping | Hydrocarbons | Non-renewable energy | Subsoils | Legal affairs | Legislation | Bering Sea | United States

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