Archipelagic water


Archipelagos which are mid-ocean group of islands such as Figi can enclose their waters by drawing a baseline around these islands. The waters so enclosed are called Archipelagic waters.

This concept is applicable only to such group of islands where the land to enclosed water ratio is as stipulated in UNCLOS. Figi is an Archipelagic State. From the baselines around these archipelagos, territorial sea, contiguous and exclusive economic zones will be measured and these States will exercise their jurisdiction in these zones as applicable to these zones. The area enclosed by the straight base lines drawn around their outer islands is called Archipelagic water.

In these Archipelagic waters, the Archipelagic State exercises its Sovereignty:

It can designate axial lines Sea lanes through which other State vessels must navigate

can suspend innocent passage in these waters temporarily in specified areas Flag State vessels have the right of innocent passage in these waters subject to their navigating within the sea lanes designated by the Archipelagic State.

They are however allowed to deviate up to a maximum of 25 miles from the axial lines sea lanes. However, they shall not approach any land closer than 10% of the distance between the axial line of the designated sea lane and the land. For instance, if the distance of land from the axial line of the sea lane is 18 miles, then the vessels shall not approach the land closer then 1.8 miles.

Vessels must comply with the laws and regulations of the Archipelagic State and conduct themselves, as they would while transiting an international strait. Until the Archipelagic State formally designate these sea lanes and are published on the charts, vessels can continue to plan their passages through the Archipelagic waters as required for their passage.

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