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Demarcation Lines Dividing the High Seas and Inland Waters Statement on Signing H.R. 1198 Into Law.

August 08, 1980

Today I am signing into law H.R. 1198, a bill "to clarify the authority to establish lines of demarcation dividing the high seas and inland waters." H.R. 1198 provides that the Secretary of Transportation shall establish identifiable lines dividing the high seas and inland waters for certain navigational and safety purposes.

The establishment of any line dividing the seas raises the possibility that arguments will be made using the lines to justify positions for which they are not intended and, consequently, may have both domestic and international implications for the location and measurement of territorial seas. The legislative report on H.R. 1198 clearly states that the lines called for by this bill relate solely to safety and are not intended to be used for any other purpose. To emphasize this legislative intent, I am directing the Secretary of Transportation to consult with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General prior to each establishment of a line under H.R. 1198. This procedure will ensure that the firmly established Federal positions regarding the location and measurement of the territorial seas are not prejudiced. In addition, it is my understanding that the lines established under H.R. 1198 are not to be deemed determinative of territorial jurisdiction under international law.

Any powers of the United States relating to the Panama Canal are, pursuant to the Panama Canal treaties, to be exercised exclusively by the Panama Canal Commission. Therefore, inclusion of the "Canal Zone" in the definition of "United States" in H.R. 1198 cannot be read to override our treaty obligations and will not be applied by the administration to override those obligations. To clarify this point, the administration will seek an amendment to remove "Canal Zone" from the definition of "United States."

The administration plans to seek additional technical amendments to H.R. 1198 in the next session of Congress to correct certain deficiencies in the bill. An amendment should be made to subparagraph (b) to ensure that no false impression is created with regard to territorial jurisdiction. I have clearly stated that the United States will not claim jurisdiction out to 12 nautical miles from the base line before conclusion of a comprehensive Law of the Sea Treaty. Other changes may be needed as well.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 1198 is Public Law 96-324, approved August 8.

Jimmy Carter, Demarcation Lines Dividing the High Seas and Inland Waters Statement on Signing H.R. 1198 Into Law. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251677

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