The Canadian Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act: New Stresses on the Law of the Sea

The Canadian Pollution Prevention Act is of interest in several respects. It opens a new round in the historic and multifaceted struggle over freedom of the seas. It raises complex questions of international law and policy regarding the legal regime of Arctic waters, the concept of contiguous zones, the status of waters within archipelagoes, and the doctrines of innocent passage and international straits. It illustrates both the perception of an increasing number of coastal states that existing international law and international arrangements are inadequate to protect their legitimate interests, and the strong pressures within such states for unilateral action to remedy these perceived deficiencies. It suggests, in particular, the type of stress that the growing concern on the part of coastal states regarding ocean pollution is likely to exert on traditional law-of-the-sea doctrines, and it also suggests the complex issues which may be involved in attempting to achieve international agreement on a regulatory regime adequate to prevent such pollution. Finally, the Act offers an instructive study of the international legal process in action.