Canadian Internal Waters
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Canadian Internal Waters

Canadian Internal Waters is a Canadian term for the waters "on the landward side of the baselines of the territorial sea of Canada."[1]


The baselines are defined as "the low-water line along the coast or on a low-tide elevation that is situated wholly or partly at a distance not exceeding the breadth of the territorial sea of Canada from the mainland or an island,"[2] and the territorial sea is defined as extending 12 nautical miles (22 km) from the points of the baselines, or such other points as may be prescribed.[3][4][5]

Canada asserts that all waters within the bounds of the Canadian Arctic islands, including the Northwest Passage, are within its internal waters.[6][7] They also include the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Strait of Georgia, Queen Charlotte Sound and Hecate Strait,[8] the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Bay of Fundy.[9]

Canada insists that her internal waters are delimited in accordance with the rules laid out in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.[10]


The legal status of a section of the Northwest Passage is disputed: Canada considers it to be part of its internal waters, fully under Canadian jurisdiction according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.[11] The United States and most maritime nations consider them to be an international strait, which means that foreign vessels have right of "transit passage".[7][12][13] In such a régime, Canada would have the right to enact fishing and environmental regulation, and fiscal and smuggling laws, and laws intended for the safety of shipping, but not the right to close the passage.[14][15][16]

See also


  1. ^ Oceans Act, S.C. 1996, c. 31, s. 6
  2. ^ Oceans Act, S.C. 1996, c. 31, s. 5(1)
  3. ^ Oceans Act, S.C. 1996, c. 31, s. 4
  4. ^ Territorial Sea Geographical Coordinates Order, C.R.C., c. 1550
  5. ^ Territorial Sea Geographical Coordinates (Area 7) Order, SOR/85-872
  6. ^ "Canadian Arctic Islands and Mainland Baselines". Canadian Hydrographic Service. 2000.
  7. ^ a b Nathan VanderKlippe (April 9, 2006). "Northwest Passage gets political name change". CanWest News Service. Archived from the original on 2016-01-21. Retrieved .
  8. ^ "Human Use - Maritime Zones" (PDF). Marine Atlas of Pacific Canada. 2013.
  9. ^ "Offshore adjoining Canada and Canada's Maritime Zones". Canadian Hydrographic Service. 2000.
  10. ^ Côté, François; Dufresne, Robert (24 October 2008). "The Arctic: Canada's Legal Claims". Library of Parliament. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  11. ^ "UNCLOS part IV, ARCHIPELAGIC STATES". Admiralty and Maritime Law Guide. 10 December 1982. Retrieved .
  12. ^ Rob Huebert (Winter 2001). "Climate Change and Canadian Sovereignty in the Northwest Passage". ISUMA: 86-94. Archived from the original on 2002-01-31. Retrieved . Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ Alanna Mitchell (February 5, 2000). "The Northwest Passage Thawed". The Globe and Mail. pp. A9. Archived from the original on 2007-12-28. Retrieved .
  14. ^ "UNCLOS part III, STRAITS USED FOR INTERNATIONAL NAVIGATION". Admiralty and Maritime Law Guide. 10 December 1982. Retrieved .
  15. ^ Matthew Carnaghan; Allison Goody (26 January 2006). "Canadian Arctic Sovereignty". Library of Parliament. Retrieved .
  16. ^ Pharand, Donat (1988). Canada's Arctic Waters in International Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 187-189. ISBN 0-521-32503-X.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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