Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999

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Statutory Instrument
Territorial extent Scotland
Made13 April 1999
Commencement1 July 1999
Other legislation
Made underScotland Act 1998
Status: Current legislation
Text of the Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from
A map showing the location of Scotland's Marine Protected Areas highlights the extent of the Scottish zone and continental shelf adjacent to Scotland.

The Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999 is a statutory instrument of the United Kingdom government, defining the boundaries of internal waters, territorial sea, and British Fishing Limits adjacent to Scotland.[1] It was introduced in accordance with the Scotland Act 1998, which established the devolved Scottish Parliament.

Defining jurisdictions[edit]

The territorial waters defined come under the jurisdiction of Scots law, and are also used for defining the area of operation of the Scottish Government (including Marine Scotland), SEPA, and other Scottish Government agencies and public bodies.

The territorial waters defined as not being Scottish waters come under the jurisdiction of either English law or Northern Ireland law. Because the order defines the territorial limits of the three separate jurisdictions, it comprises a piece of constitutional law in the constitution of the United Kingdom.

Scottish waters[edit]

Scottish waters is a colloquial term which can refer to different sea areas, including:

Differences with existing boundaries[edit]

The maritime boundary adopted by the order is an equidistant boundary.[5] This differed from the boundary established by the Civil Jurisdiction (Offshore Activities) Act 1987[6] which defined a straight line border between Scotland and England in the North Sea along the latitude of 55° 50' 00"N.

As a result, some oil fields previously subject to Scots civil law were transferred to English jurisdiction.[7] Professor Alex Kemp of the University of Aberdeen argued that the movement of the line did not make much difference from an economic perspective, "because [these] are just a handful of fields, and [no longer] very important ones".[7]

Potential implications for Scottish independence[edit]

The Scottish National Party opposed the order and the methods used to calculate the boundary in the North Sea.[8][9]

In 2015, the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, Richard Lochhead, wrote to the UK Government requesting a review of the order.[10]

In 2001, Mahdi Zahraa of Glasgow Caledonian University, published a discussion paper in the European Journal of International Law detailing different methods of establishing an Anglo-Scottish marine boundary.[11] The author suggests that a perpendicular boundary, derived from a new straight baseline on the east coast of Scotland and England, combined with an area of shared jurisdiction, would be the most equitable solution.

Supporters of Scottish independence such as Craig Murray have also argued for a perpendicular boundary based on a straight baseline.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999, explanatory note". The National Archives. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  2. ^ "Scotland Act 1998, article 126". The National Archives. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  3. ^ "Scotland Act 1998, article 126". The National Archives. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  4. ^ "Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, article 322". The National Archives. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  5. ^ "Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries. Debate in the Scottish Parliament at 3:18 pm on 3rd June 1999". Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  6. ^ "The Civil Jurisdiction (Offshore Activities) Order 1987". The National Archives. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  7. ^ a b Brocklehurst, Steven (16 April 2013). "Who has a right to claim North Sea oil?". BBC News Online. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  8. ^ "Scots anger as fishing limit is redrawn". BBC News. 14 May 1999. Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  9. ^ "UK: Scotland. New twist in fishing boundary dispute". BBC News. 20 October 1999. Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  10. ^ "What Do They Know? FOI Response. Stolen Seas?". WhatDoTheyKnow. 27 October 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  11. ^ "Prospective Anglo-Scottish Maritime Boundary Revisited" (PDF). European Journal of International Law. Archived from the original on 10 January 2021. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  12. ^ "Scotland's Stolen Seas: The Technical Explanation". 10 January 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2021.

External links[edit]