25 Int'l J. Marine & Coastal L. 183 (2010)
The Rainbow: The First National Marine Protected Area Proposed under the High Seas

handle is hein.journals/ljmc25 and id is 191 raw text is: AlIlNE
MARTINUS                                                           AND COASTAL
NIJHOFF                     The International Journal of              LAW
P U B L I S H E R s  Marine and Coastal Law 25 (2010) 183-207       brill.nil/estu
The 'Rainbow': The First National Marine Protected
Area Proposed Under the High Seas
Marta Chantal Ribeiro*
Assistant Professor of International Law and European Union Law,
Centre for Legal and Economic Research, Faculty of Law, University of Porto, Portugal
Abstract
The discovery of the 'Rainbow', a hydrothermal vent field located in the Portuguese conti-
nental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles, has prompted new thinking in our understanding of
the law of the sea. In 2006, in the context of the OSPAR Convention, Portugal proposed the
nomination of the first national marine protected area under the high seas. The subsequent
acceptance of the proposal by the OSPAR Convention members makes Portugal a pioneer in
the protection of marine biodiversity at an international level: first, because of the unique
location of the marine protected area; second, because the nomination was accepted at a stage
when the process of delineation of the outer limits of the continental shelf had not been con-
cluded. The new juridical perspectives stimulated by these facts are addressed in this article.
Keywords
coastal state jurisdiction; hydrothermal vent field; marine protected area; outer continental
shelf; rights of third states
Introduction
The name may not have been chosen by accident. The 'Rainbow'-the name
given to the particular marine ecosystem that is the subject of this article-
conveys the image of a much sought-after treasure. In the image of an
'atmospheric' rainbow, another conjugation of natural factors has produced a
veritable 'marine' rainbow in an area of the Portuguese continental shelf
located beyond 200 nautical miles (nm) (see Fig. 1). In fact, because of its
* E-mail: mchantal@direito.up.pt. I would like to thank David Freestone, Manuel Pinto de
Abreu, Paulo das Neves Coelho and Ricardo Serrio Santos for the assistance and encourage-
ment given to this work on the Rainbow hydrothermal vent field. This article is an updated
and condensed version of the article published in Portuguese: Rainbow, um exemplo mun-
dial: a primeira irea marinha protegida nacional em perspectiva sob iguas do alto mar. A
descoberta do tesouro do arco-iris, (2007) 20 Revista do CEDOUA 47 and 186, Faculty of
Law, University of Coimbra.

@ Koninklijke Brill NV, LeCiden, 2010

DOI: 10.1163/157180910X12665776638669

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