List of areas disputed by Canada and the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Although Canada and the United States share the longest non-militarized border between two countries, there is a long history of disputes about the border's demarcation.[1]

Current disputes[edit]

  • Machias Seal Island and North Rock (Maine / New Brunswick), also known as the "Grey Zone," is occupied by a Canadian lighthouse but claimed by the United States and visited by U.S. tour boats. The area is patrolled by the Canadian Coast Guard.
  • Strait of Juan de Fuca (Washington / British Columbia) The middle-water line is the boundary, but the governments of both Canada and British Columbia disagree and support two differing boundary definitions that would extend the line into the Pacific Ocean to provide a more definite Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) boundary.
  • Dixon Entrance (Alaska / British Columbia) is wholly administered by Canada as part of its territorial waters, but the US supports a middle-water line boundary, thereby providing the US more maritime waters. A line known as the "A-B" Line[2] was defined in a 1903 arbitration decision on the Alaska/Canada boundary.[3] The court specified the initial boundary point (Point "A") at the northern end of Dixon Entrance[4] and also designated Point "B" 72 NM to the east.[5] Canada relies on the "A-B" Line as rendering nearly all of Dixon Entrance as Canadian internal waters. The U.S. does not recognize the "A-B" Line as an official boundary, instead regarding it as allocating sovereignty over the land masses within the Dixon Entrance,[2] with Canada's land south of the line. The U.S. regards the waters as subject to international marine law, and in 1977 it defined an equidistant territorial sea throughout Dixon Entrance,[2] extending as far east as Hecate Strait to the south and Clarence Strait to the north.[6] Thus, for the most part, it extends south of the "A-B" line. Nunez Rocks is a low-tide elevation ("bare at half-tide"[7]) south of the "A-B" Line surrounded by the sea territory claimed by the US.[2] From the U.S. point-of-view, Nunez Rocks is a Canadian exclave, while from Canada's perspective, it is an internal island.
  • Yukon–Alaska dispute, Beaufort Sea (Alaska / Yukon) Canada supports an extension into the sea of the land boundary between Yukon and Alaska. The US does not, but instead supports an extended sea boundary into the Canadian portion of the Beaufort Sea. Such a demarcation means that a minor portion of Northwest Territories EEZ in the polar region is claimed by Alaska, because the EEZ boundary between Northwest Territories and Yukon follows a straight north-south line into the sea. US claims would create a triangular shaped EEZ for Yukon/Canada.[8]
  • Northwest Passage; Canada claims the passage as part of its "internal waters" belonging to Canada, while the United States regards it as an "international strait" (a strait accommodating open international traffic). The Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy have commissioned a new ice breaker along with multiple offshore patrol ships to guard and patrol the waters.

Historical disputes[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ McRae, Donald Malcolm; Munro, Gordon Ross. Canadian oceans policy: national strategies and the new law of the sea. University of British Columbia Press. p. 50. ISBN 0-7748-0339-8. Retrieved 2010-11-14. 
  2. ^ a b c d Gray, David H. (Autumn 1997). "Canada's Unresolved Maritime Boundaries" (PDF). IBRU Boundary and Security Bulletin. p. 61. Retrieved 2015-03-21. 
  3. ^ "International Boundary Commission definition of the Canada/US boundary in the NAD83 CSRS reference frame". Retrieved 2015-03-21. 
  4. ^ White, James (1914). Boundary Disputes and Treaties. Glasgow, Brook & Company. pp. 936–958. 
  5. ^ Davidson, George (1903). The Alaska Boundary. Alaska Packers Association. pp. 79–81, 129–134, 177–179, 229. 
  6. ^ The Alaska Boundary Dispute, Tony Fogarassy, Clark Wilson LLP
  7. ^ U.S. National Geodetic Survey. "NOAA Shoreline Data Explorer". Retrieved 2015-04-10. 
  8. ^ US-Canada Arctic border dispute key to maritime riches, BBC News, 2 August 2010