Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, States are entitled to claim four maritime zones off their coasts (territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf) within which they have sovereignty, sovereign rights or jurisdiction, as explained in chapters four, seven, eight and nine. The outer limits of these four zones are, respectively, twelve, twenty-four, 200 and up to 350 nautical miles. Those distances are measured from what is known as the ‘baseline’. The latter is normally the low-water line. However, in certain circumstances other lines may be used as the baseline. This chapter explains how the low-water line is determined and the circumstances in which other lines may be used as the baseline. Such lines include those connecting the outermost points on coasts that are deeply indented and/or fringed with islands and those drawn across the mouths of bays, rivers and harbour entrances. The chapter also considers the role of islands in the application of baselines, as well as the effect on baselines of predicted increases in sea levels.
The contiguous zone is a zone of sea contiguous to and seaward of the territorial sea, extending up to 24 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured. In the contiguous zone, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provides that States have limited powers for the prevention and punishment of breaches of customs, fiscal, sanitary and immigration laws. The chapter begins by explaining the development of the concept of the contiguous zone and how the zone is delineated. Noting that a State must assert its right to a contiguous zone, the chapter considers claims made to a contiguous zone. It then addresses the legal status of the zone in detail, notably the scope of coastal State jurisdiction and the extent to which States claim contiguous zones for purposes other than those expressly set out in UNCLOS.
This chapter considers the legal status of the seabed adjacent to a typical coast. It approaches the question of continental shelf rights primarily from the perspective of the classical continental shelf doctrine, looking first at the area to which it applies and second at the nature of coastal States’ rights. It addresses the role of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and the current status of its work. The continental shelf of Antarctica, notably the various claims currently made in that regard, is discussed. An analysis of the rights and duties of the coastal State is provided, first with reference to the 200 mile zone, before turning to the outer continental shelf.
In many parts of the world, the maritime zones (territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf) of neighbouring States overlap. If conflicts over resource exploitation and other activities in areas of overlap are likely, it will be desirable for the States concerned to establish a boundary between their overlapping zones, whether by negotiation, with the aid of a mediator or conciliation commission, or by recourse to arbitration or an international court. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea provides limited guidance as to how such boundaries are to be delimited, especially boundaries between overlapping EEZs and continental shelves. Greater guidance has been provided by international courts and arbitral tribunals. The chapter begins by explaining the possible processes by which a maritime boundary may be established. It then analyses the relevant provisions of the Convention and the now substantial body of case law on maritime boundary delimitation. It also examines possible alternatives to a maritime boundary, such as a zone of joint management, as well as the obligations of restraint to which States are subject where there is no boundary or agreed alternative arrangement. Finally, the possible consequences of predicted sea-level rise for existing maritime boundaries are explored.
The exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is a zone extending 200 nautical miles seawards from the baseline. Within it, a coastal State has the right to exploit and manage the natural resources of the zone (including fish and renewable energy) and the jurisdiction to regulate, to varying degrees, the construction of installations, the conduct of scientific research and the discharge of pollutants. Other States have the right for their ships and aircraft to traverse the EEZ and its airspace, and to lay cable and pipelines. After explaining the genesis of the EEZ and how the zone is delineated, the chapter provides a detailed analysis of the respective rights of coastal States and other States in the EEZ, including the question of whether they may engage in military activities there. It also explores the mechanisms for regulating possible conflicts between the exercise of their respective rights by coastal and other States, as well as conflicts over activities that do not fall within the group of enumerated rights of either category of State. A coastal State has a choice as to whether to claim an EEZ. The final part of the chapter examines the extent to which States have exercised that option, and suggests possible reasons why a small number of coastal States have chosen not to establish an EEZ.
The high seas comprise all parts of the sea that are not included in the exclusive economic zone, in the territorial sea or in the internal waters of a State, or in the archipelagic waters of an archipelagic State. After considering the definition and legal status of the high seas, the chapter analyses the concept of the freedom of the high seas, noting the controversies arising in this regard given the non-exhaustive list of examples provided in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It then provides a detailed assessment of jurisdiction on the high seas, explaining that whilst the legal regime of the high seas has traditionally been characterised by the dominance of the principles of free use and the exclusivity of flag State jurisdiction, in practice the picture is very different. It considers this issue with respect to piracy and other threats to the safety of navigation, unauthorised broadcasting, slavery, people and drug trafficking, ships of uncertain nationality and stateless ships. It concludes with a section addressing the right of hot pursuit and constructive presence.
After explaining that internal waters are those marine areas on the landward side of the baseline and that States have sovereignty over such areas, this chapter considers particular aspects of that sovereignty in detail. The first is the right of access for foreign vessels to ports and other internal waters. The second is the coastal State’s jurisdiction, both legislative and enforcement, over foreign vessels in its internal waters under customary international law, together with the specialised jurisdiction over foreign vessels in its ports conferred by some treaties.
This chapter begins by emphasising that scientific research is vital if the oceans are to be wisely used and managed. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea introduces a detailed regime for the conduct of marine scientific research. After considering the meaning of ‘marine scientific research’, a term frequently used in the Convention but nowhere defined, the chapter analyses the relevant provisions of the Convention. It explains how the requirement of prior consent for research carried out in a coastal State’s maritime zones operates. The chapter continues by discussing the general principles for the conduct of marine scientific research laid down by the Convention; its provisions encouraging research, particularly through international co-operation (given effect to through bodies such as the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission): and its regulation, albeit rather limited, of the legal status of research installations and equipment. The chapter argues that the Convention’s apparent paradigm for the conduct of marine scientific research, namely by a dedicated research vessel, has become dated as research is increasingly carried out by an array of unmanned fixed and floating devices and by remote sensing from satellites in outer space. The chapter ends by considering other regimes that govern the conduct of specific types of research, such as those of the International Whaling Commission and the Antarctic Treaty System.
Fish from the sea have long been an important source of food for many human communities. The degree to which this will continue depends on how well marine fisheries are managed. However, various biological and socio-economic factors mean that such management is not easy, as the beginning of this chapter explains. The chapter continues by analysing the array of treaties and soft law instruments that attempt to provide for effective fisheries conservation and management, both within and beyond national jurisdiction. This body of law includes: the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea; the UN Fish Stocks Agreement; the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Compliance and Port States Measures Agreements; measures adopted by regional fisheries management organisations and arrangements; various UN General Assembly resolutions, especially those concerning high seas drift-net fishing and vulnerable marine ecosystems; the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries; and the FAO’s International Plans of Action, notably that on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing. The chapter demonstrates that this substantial body of measures has failed to prevent the unsustainable exploitation of around one-third of all fish stocks; the adverse impact of the fishing industry on species other than fish, including dolphins, turtles and seabirds; and the damage caused by fishing gear to vulnerable and ecologically important habitats. Various reasons for this failure are suggested.
Covering around 54 per cent of the total area of the world’s oceans, the International Seabed Area (known as ‘the Area’) is defined in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as the ‘seabed and ocean floor and subsoil thereof beyond the limits of national jurisdiction’. This chapter begins by explaining the background to the current legal regime of the Area, tracing developments from the time when it was first realised that seabed mining was a commercial possibility. It then analyses the current legal regime, as set out in Part XI of the UN Convention and the 1994 Implementation Agreement, and supplemented by regulations and procedures issued by the International Seabed Authority (ISA). It addresses in detail the roles of the various organs of the ISA, as well as the current system of exploitation, including the role of the sponsoring State, the regulations currently in place addressing the prospecting and exploration of deep seabed minerals, as well as the draft regulations addressing their exploitation. Finally the principle of the Area and its resources as the ‘common heritage of mankind’ is analysed, and in this context the environmental issues of mining are highlighted.