United States – Russian Maritime Boundary and Exclusive Economic Zones

Russia – United States Maritime Boundary [Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea]

This de facto agreement stems from the 1990 USSR – United States Maritime Agreement, and before that the United States – Russia Convention of March 18/30, 1867.  As the boundary extends North along the 168 58′ 37″ W meridian through the Bering Straight and Chukchi Sea, the southern trajectory is a tad more complex.  Commonly displayed as a straight line with origins in the Bering Straight, heading toward, and then between Copper Island (Остров Медный) and Attu Island; this conception is certainly not true.

Due to the fact that neither party had mentioned whether or not the ‘straight line’ between the two masses was to be Mercator or conformal (after the sale of Alaska to the United States), a new disputed territory was formed (the difference between the Mercator and conformal lines).  1990 resolved the issue, and resulted in the non-linear border that we now see today as the difference between the two lines were split.  The United States, however, gained a much larger section of the disputed part of the Bering Sea than did the USSR.  Before the USSR was able to ratify, it collapsed, leaving a somewhat unclear conclusion.  The United States, to this day, patrols this area to ensure that the seemingly agreed upon agreement is upheld.

Beaufort Sea Dispute

The Beaufort Sea contains a21,000 km^2 triangular area (see map), which is claimed by both Canada and the United States.  Possibly containing 1,700,000,000 m^3 of natural gas, and over 1,000,000,000 m^3 of oil, the dispute has gone unresolved.

Canadian Position:  An 1825 treaty between the Russian and British Empires (The Treaty of Saint Petersburg) held that the Beaufort Sea maritime boundary was to be an extension of the straight land border between the Yukon and Alaska (following the 141st meridian).  Since this position was transferred to the U.S. and Canada when Alaska and Yukon were acquired, Canada concedes that the disputed region belongs to it.

American Position:  Following a principle of equidistance, the maritime boundary line that would be perpendicular to the coast, outward by 200 nmi, would differ from the line that would have been present given the simple 141st meridian extension.

Both countries currently implement environmental preservation programs within this disputed region.