Search

 

Cablegate: Action Request: New 'Notice to Mariners' On Change

VZCZCXRO9335
OO RUEHLMC
DE RUEHMU #0696/01 1542215
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 022215Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2681
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA IMMEDIATE 1901
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO IMMEDIATE 5284
RUMIAAA/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL//J2/J3/J5// IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUENAAA/CNO WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUCOWCA/COAST GUARD SECURITY CTR CHESAPEAKE VA IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/COGARD INTELCOORDCEN WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUENAAA/SECNAV WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 MANAGUA 000696

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN
DEPT FOR L/OES - A. ROCHE
DEPT FOR INR/IAA - EMERSON AND INR/GGI - MILEFSKY
DEPT FOR EEB AND OES
DEPT FOR IO/T LUSTIG
DEPT FOR CA/OCS
DEPT FOR EEB/TRA AND OES/OA
STATE FOR USOAS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PBTS PREL EWWT EFIS CASC MOPS CO XK
SUBJECT: ACTION REQUEST: NEW 'NOTICE TO MARINERS' ON CHANGE
OF CONTROL AFTER ICJ RESOLUTION OF NICARAGUA-HONDURAS
MARITIME DISPUTE

REF: MANAGUA 185 (NOTAL)

1. (U) THIS IS AN ACTION REQUEST. Please see paragraph 10
for Action.

2. (SBU) BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY: In October 2007, the
International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague issued a
decision resolving a long-standing maritime boundary dispute
between Nicaragua and Honduras. This decision established a
new maritime boundary which granted Nicaragua control over a
portion of ocean that had previously been under the control
of Honduras. Following the decision, the Government of
Nicaragua (GON) ordered the Nicaraguan Navy to expand its
maritime patrols to include the area previously controlled by
Honduras and enforce Nicaragua's requirement that fishing
vessels operating in Nicaraguan waters hold a valid
Nicaraguan fishing license. Since October, the Nicaraguan
Navy has impounded about a dozen vessels, including two that
are U.S.-owned, for allegedly not being in possession of
valid Nicaraguan fishing licenses. The GON has an
established procedure to reverse the seizures and return the
vessels to the rightful owners once fines and demurrage are
paid.

3. (SBU) We note that there is another separate maritime
boundary dispute between Nicaragua and Colombia regarding
waters surrounding the San Andres archipelago that Nicaragua
claims as its EEZ. In December 2007, the ICJ issued an
interim opinion on this dispute, but did not resolve it
definitively. This dispute should not be confused with the
now-resolved Honduras-Nicaragua issue. A Notice to Mariners
for this entire area has been in effect since 1994, revised
in 1997. However, the notice does not reflect changes
resulting from the recent ICJ decisions. We have
strengthened our Country Specific Information (CSI) on this
matter two times in the last 12 months. END BACKGROUND AND
SUMMARY.

Nicaraguan/Honduran Maritime Border Dispute Resolved
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. (SBU) The ICJ ruling in the case of Nicaragua versus
Honduras of October 8, 2007 granted the GON control over
certain maritime areas previously claimed by Honduras north
of the 15th parallel. (NOTE. The court awarded sovereignty
to Honduras of four island Keys-- Bobel, Savanna, Port Royal
and South, -- and the southern 12-nautical mile arc around
them. For the actual decision see
http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/120/14075 .pdf. END NOTE.)
Immediately following the ICJ ruling, the GON ordered the
Nicaraguan Navy to expand its patrols to include the
newly-awarded maritime space. Since October, the Nicaraguan
Navy has seized and impounded several fishing vessels due to
fishing license problems. Although some owners have asserted
that their vessels were "stolen," the GON has not asserted
that it will restrict exclusive rights to fish these waters
to Nicaraguan vessels. Rather, they are allowing all
properly-licensed vessels and crews to fish in these waters,
as before when the space was under Honduran control. Now,
however, the licenses must come from Nicaragua, not Honduras.

5. (U) The Nicaraguan Navy has seized several vessels
operating in the area. Most have been Honduran vessels;

MANAGUA 00000696 002 OF 004


though two were U.S.-owned (one U.S.-flagged, "Shooting
Star", and one Honduran-flagged, "Fish Hawk"). According to
our contacts within the GON and the Nicaraguan Navy, the Navy
seized both U.S. vessels for not holding valid licenses to
fish in Nicaraguan waters. The GON has an established
process to resolve these types of license violations and has
assured us that this process applies for both impoundment
cases involving U.S.-owned ships. The GON has informed us
that the resolution process requires that owners (or owners,
agents) pay specified fines as well as demurrage charges. An
alternative would be to fight the seizure and impoundment in
local court. We were contacted directly by the American
Citizen (AmCit) owner of one of the impounded vessels (and by
the office of Senator David Vitter on behalf of the same
Amcit owner). In response to both the direct contact and the
Congressional inquiry, we identified the two obvious
alternatives to resolve the situation and relayed the GON's
basic information about its process. We also provided the
AmCit with the Consular Attorneys List, some of whom have
maritime law experience.

Colombia a Separate Issue
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

6. (U) The Honduras/Nicaragua ICJ ruling is separate from
another dispute between Nicaragua and Colombia south of the
15th parallel and east of the 82nd meridian, regarding the
waters surrounding the San Andres Archipelago that Nicaragua
claims as within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). NOTE:
Decision can be found at
http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/124/14305 .pdf. END NOTE.
On December 13, 2007 the ICJ issued a partial decision in
this dispute. The Court ruled that the islands themselves
were under Colombian sovereignty. The Court also determined
that it held competent jurisdiction to rule on the maritime
delimitation of control over the surrounding waters; however,
it chose to defer a final determination until after the
submission of additional pleadings set for November 2008. In
issuing its interim decision, the Court also urged both
parties try to resolve the issue on their own. To our
knowledge, no bilateral discussions on this topic have yet
taken place.

7. (U) It is important to note that the area awarded to
Nicaragua in the Nicaraguan/Honduras case does not overlap
with the waters in dispute in the Nicaragua/Colombia case.
The two U.S.-owned ships recently impounded by the Nicaraguan
Navy were seized within the newly-awarded Nicaraguan waters
just north of the 15th parallel and east of the 82nd
meridian, which also constitute the working boundaries of the
disputed Nicaragua/Colombia boundary. In its decision on the
Nicaragua-Honduras case the ICJ stated, "The Court . . .
observes that any delimitation between Honduras and Nicaragua
extending east beyond the 82nd meridian and north of the 15th
parallel (as the bisector adopted by the Court would do)
would not actually prejudice Colombia's rights because
Colombia's rights under this Treaty do not extend north of
the 15th parallel." Therefore, according to the ICJ ruling
in the Honduras-Nicaragua case, Colombia has no claim north
of the 15th parallel, which is the area newly-awarded to
Nicaragua. Our GON sources inform us, and we have confirmed,
that the Nicaraguan Navy seizures have all taken place well
within this new maritime space. Colombia has no overlapping

MANAGUA 00000696 003 OF 004


or competing claim in this area, and the two disputes should
not be confused or conflated, as far as these two impoundment
are concerned.

Revised Notice to Mariners Needed
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

8. (U) Since 1994, the Department has had an active Special
Warning, published in the National Geospatial-Intelligence
Agency's weekly U.S. Notice to Mariners, warning that
"Nicaragua has boundary disputes with its neighbors . . ."
and that "(m)ariners operating small vessels such as yachts
and fishing boats . . . should exercise caution." This
Special Warning was revised in October 1997, and therefore
makes no mention of the two recent ICJ opinions or
Nicaragua's newly recognized maritime sovereignty.

9. (U) Given these recent developments, we have revised our
CSI two times within the last 12 months and strengthened the
warning language each time. The current text -- contained in
para 12 below -- we submitted to the Department on May 21.

ACTION REQUEST
- - - - - - -

10. (U) ACTION REQUEST: Post requests that the Department
consider issuing a new Special Warning published in the U.S.
Notice to Mariners specific to these separate ICJ decisions
regarding separate and new maritime delimitation in the
Caribbean. We have provided suggested language in paragraph
11 below.

11. (U) BEGIN SUGGESTED TEXT FOR U.S. Notice to Mariners
Nicaragua Special Warning:

SPECIAL WARNING NO. #.
NICARAGUA.

-1. Mariners operating small vessels such as yachts and
fishing boats should note that Nicaragua has boundary
disputes with its neighbors in both its Caribbean and Pacific
waters, and should exercise caution.

-2. The Caribbean waters lying generally south of the 15th
parallel and east of the 82nd up to the 79th meridians are
subject to a current dispute between Nicaragua and Colombia.

-3. The International Court of Justice has delimited a new
maritime boundary line awarding maritime sovereignty to the
Government of Nicaragua in maritime areas previously claimed
by Honduras above the 15th parallel. The Nicaraguan Navy is
patrolling this maritime space, enforcing the requirement
that fishing vessels hold a valid Nicaraguan fishing license,
and has seized vessels not in compliance.

-4. There have been cases where Nicaraguan authorities have
seized foreign-flagged fishing and other vessels off the
Nicaraguan coast. The government of Nicaragua imposes heavy
fines on parties caught fishing illegally within waters of
Nicaragua's jurisdiction.

-5. While in all cases passengers and crew have been released
within a period of several weeks, in some cases the ships

MANAGUA 00000696 004 OF 004


have been searched, personal gear and navigational equipment
has disappeared, and Nicaraguan authorities have held seized
vessels for excessive periods. Prompt U.S. Embassy consular
access to detained U.S. citizens on Nicaragua's Caribbean
coast may not be possible because of delays in notification
due to the relative isolation of the region.

-6. There have been reported incidents of piracy in Caribbean
and Pacific waters off the coast of Nicaragua, but the
Nicaraguan Navy has increased its patrols and no recent
incidents have been reported.

-7. Cancel Special Warning No. 95.

END SUGGESTED TEXT.

12. (U) BEGIN TEXT OF Nicaragua Country Specific Information
(CSI):

(Within the Safety and Security Section.) Nautical travelers
should be aware that there is an ongoing boundary dispute
with Colombia over the San Andres Island archipelago and the
surrounding waters, specifically the area east of the 82nd
and up to the 79th meridian. Furthermore, the Government of
Nicaragua has also begun to exercise sovereignty over
territorial waters that were formerly controlled by Honduras
but recently awarded to Nicaragua by the International Court
of Justice. Two U.S.-flag fishing vessels were recently
impounded by Nicaraguan authorities for allegedly fishing
without a Nicaraguan permit in these zones.

END TEXT.

Comment
- - - -

13. (SBU) We expect that this problem may continue for
several months, if not years, as commercial fishers and
mariners learn that Nicaragua is exercising its control over
the formerly Honduran-controlled waters north of the 15th
parallel, and until the dispute with Colombia over waters
south of parallel 15 and east of meridian 82 is resolved. We
responded to inquires about the impounded U.S.-owned vessels
by providing information about the established GON process to
resolve these cases. We believe that the GON will facilitate
a resolution once it has been contacted by the owners or
their agents. We will continue to monitor the progress of
AmCit efforts to resolve these two seizures, and are prepared
to step in and assist should the GON deviate from or delay
the resolution process as it described to us.
TRIVELLI

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC