Fifty-fifth Annual Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.

Position:Case concerning the Malachi Gap
 
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THE CASE CONCERNING THE MALACHI GAP

The 2014 compromis raised four primary issues: (1) cross-border environmental harms at sea; (2) salvage of underwater cultural heritage; (3) hot pursuit and extra-territorial jurisdiction to arrest; and (4) jurisdiction to try and convict an individual arrested extra-territorially.

The litigating nations this year were Amalea and Ritania, two states separated by the Strait of Malachi, a large channel connecting two seas. Amalea is a developing, newly industrialized island state with an historical reliance on a large fishing industry. Ritania is a developed, industrialized peninsular state that lacked a commercial fishing structure.

Both nations declared Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) that overlapped within an area of the Strait of Malachi known as the Malachi Gap. In an effort to resolve issues stemming from their competing claims, the two nations signed the 1993 Malachi Gap Treaty. In this treaty, the two states agreed that Amalea would maintain rights over the water column and Ritania would maintain rights over the seabed and subsoil. The treaty was hailed by both sides as an historic achievement that would allow Amalea to protect vital fisheries resources while offering Ritania the opportunity to develop a previously discovered subsea natural gas field.

In late 2006, a Ritanian billionaire, Esmeralda Kali, announced plans to finance the construction of Excelsior Island, a large doughnut-shaped artificial island, to be reclaimed from oceanic sand and rock dredged from the Malachi Gap. The island would be used as a facility for the production of liquefied natural gas (LNG), using an undersea pipeline, and would be powered by an offshore wind farm. Excess energy from the wind farm would be used to pump water from the hollowed center of the Island, acting as an energy storage device to ensure a constant supply of power to the gas facility. The island would be constructed on a portion of the Sirius Plateau located just outside of the Malachi Gap and within Ritania's exclusive EEZ.

However, the island and construction would be in close proximity to the only known breeding ground of the Dorian wrasse, located on the southwestern corner of the Sirius Plateau, nestled within the Malachi Gap. The Dorian wrasse is the most significant fish species to the Amalean people, and it is consumed on important holidays due to its exalted place in Amalean cultural history. Furthermore, domestic and international sales of the wrasse generated approximately USD 160 million annually by 2000, and exporters regularly projected higher returns in coming decades.

Ritanian authorities approved plans for construction of Excelsior Island over the objections of the Amalean authorities, who claimed that Ritania had no right to dredge within the Malachi Gap. At the very least, the Amaleans claimed that the Ritanians had no right to do so without a full environmental impact assessment (EIA). The Ritanian government contended that the island itself would be constructed entirely outside of the Gap, within their own uncontested EEZ, leaving Ritania in full compliance with the Gap Treaty and international law.

The Amaleans subsequently produced a report from a reputable non-governmental organization composed of world experts, the International League for Sustainable Aquaculture (ILSA)...

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