700.022/3–750: Circular airgram

The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Missions 1


Delimitation of Inland Waters and the Marginal Sea

Department requests information regarding relevant portions of all laws, decrees, regulations, treaties, and other authoritative government pronouncements of country to which you are accredited, concerning the delimitation and measurement of its inland waters and its marginal sea. Available copies of such documents should be forwarded to the Department, in triplicate, if possible.

In the trial brief of the State of California submitted during the October term of 1948 of the Supreme Court of the United States, in the petition of the Plaintiff for the Entry of a Supplemental Decree in the case of United States v California (Opinion, 332 United States 19; Order and Decree, 332 United States 804), it was stated, at pages 37 and 38, that:

“Many nations specifically define their inland waters by national law as extending to their outermost islands, rocks and reefs regardless of distances from the mainland, and hence establish the base line of the marginal belt on the seaward side of such islands, rocks and reefs. Among such nations are Cuba, Denmark (including Greenland), Finland, New Caledonia (by French decree), Germany, Great Britain, Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway, Russia, and Sweden.

“Some nations declare very large bays, much larger than San Pedro, Santa Monica or Monterey Bays, to be inland waters. Among them are the Argentine Republic, Canada, Chile, Egypt, France, Guatemala, Norway, Sweden, Ecuador, Colombia, Italy, Portugal, Russia, and Spain.

“Some nations place a specific limit of ten miles or less on width of bays which are inland waters. Among these are Brazil, Denmark, France (ten-mile limitation exists in certain fisheries treaties), Germany, [Page 876] Great Britain (exceptions made as to “historic bays”), Indonesia, and The Netherlands.

“Many nations specifically define ports, harbors, and roadsteads, and declare them to be inland waters. Examples are Australia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Uruguay.

“Certain nations establish the base line from which the marginal sea is drawn not from every point on the coast but from selected salient points. Examples are Ecuador, France, Great Britain, Norway, and Spain.”

The Department is particularly interested in paragraphs 1, 2 and 5. Since the Department’s files are not complete on this subject, and some of these laws may be very recent, you are requested to furnish a brief general statement on this subject at the earliest possible date, and to forward the more specific information and documents as you receive them.

  1. Sent to Athens, Bangkok, Caracas, Ciudad Trujillo, Manila, Port-au-Prince, Pretoria (Transvaal), Rangoon, Tel Aviv, Wellington, and Damascus.