legal definition of a reef

Kathleen Swalling kathleen at
Mon Jan 28 18:56:04 EST 2002

Although, I have been loathe to enter this discussion as there seems to be a
myriad of views that remain & possibly will remain unresolved.  on the legal
side I can say this:

1. Statute law is based on policy (& obviously, politics, economics and
conventions of the day). Once the policy is formed then the law can be
to effect it.  i.e. once a decision on the definition of a reef is made
law can be used to effect it.

In common law countries the judiciary might create a definition of 'reef' to
decide a case but where the government is sovereign it will be able to
any definition with statute law (once again based on policy (an agreed
definition of the term 'reef' that extolls a country/states policy).

2. Law is jurisdictionally dependent (in a federal system there may be 2
jurisdictions: national and state) unless international law (then it may be
treaty based or customary (based on custom).  Treaty based law only every
ratifying parties.

3. It might be possible to propose a 'soft law' definition of 'reef' to
nation state legislators could look for uniformity of definition but agree
bind international parties to the definition would require some sort of
ratification.  By 'soft law' I mean something like Agenda 21.  This may be
useful in encouraging parties to a global definition, understanding.

I hope this helps, a little.


Please note the views in this email reflect those of the writer only and not
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Kathleen Swalling
Senior Legal Officer
Legal Services Unit
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Phone:  61 7 4750 0899
Fax:    61 7 4772 6093

Email: kathleen at
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  Kathleen Swalling <kathleen at>
  Senior Legal Officer
  Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
  Legal Services Unit

  Kathleen Swalling
  Senior Legal Officer                      <kathleen at>
  Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
  Legal Services Unit
  2-68 Flinders Street PO Box 1379          Fax: 61 7 4772 6093
  TOWNSVILLE                                Work: 61 7 4750 0899
  Additional Information:
  Last Name    Swalling
  First Name   Kathleen
  Version      2.1

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