Publication Details

Schofield, C. & Arsana, I. (2010). Imaginary islands?: options to preserve maritime jurisdictional entitlements and provide stable maritime limits in the face of coastal instability. Proceedings of the Advisory Board on the Law of the Sea (ABLOS) conference on Contentious Issues in UNCLOS – Surely Not? (pp. 1-11). Monaco: ABLOS.

Link to publisher version (URL)

6th IHO-IAG ABLOS Conference


The inundation of a disputed island in the Bay of Bengal in March 2010 was reported as an unlooked for benefit of climate change, eliminating the object of a contentious bilateral dispute. In fact this has not proved to be the case and the incident instead highlights the vulnerability of certain low-lying coastlines and insular features to significant and rapid changes in location, whether caused by sea level rise or not. While acknowledging ongoing debates on climate change and sea level rise, the paper examines key challenges in this context, notably concerning the ambulatory nature of normal baselines and the consequent potential impacts on the location of maritime jurisdictional limits derived from them. The paper goes on to suggest that the impacts of sea level rise on coasts and maritime claims will be unevenly felt before briefly outlining potential options with respect to retaining or securing maritime jurisdictional entitlements.