Colombia loses swath of sea but keeps islands in dispute with Nicaragua

BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombia lost a large swath of the Caribbean but kept a series of far-flung islands that had been at the heart of a long-running dispute with Nicaragua.

The International Court of Justice on Monday redrew the two nation’s maritime boundaries in a decision that’s likely to have a long-ranging impact on fishing and mineral rights in the region.

The new map gives Colombia access to its tourist-haven islands of San Andres and Providencia through a wide channel that juts into Nicaragua’s new maritime boundaries. But it also leaves two smaller uninhabited keys, Quitasueno and Serrana, as Colombian enclaves in Nicaraguan waters.

Nicaragua brought the dispute to the court in the Hague, Netherlands, in 2001, asking for control of some of the islands and to have its maritime rights extended further east. Colombia had wanted the maritime boundary drawn along the 82 meridian.

In the short-term, the decision may have the biggest impact on Colombia’s fishing fleet, which will now have to ply through Nicaraguan waters to reach the fishing grounds around Quitasueno and Serrana.

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&Copy;2012 The Miami Herald

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