Exclusive Economic Zone

An illustration showing the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the international waters. Click to enlarge. (Made by Arctic Portal).An illustration showing the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the international waters. Click to enlarge. (Made by Arctic Portal).An exclusive economic zone, EEZ, is a zone extending up to 200 miles from the baseline within which the costal State enjoys extensive rights in relation to natural resources and related jurisdictional rights. Other States enjoys freedom of navigation, over flight and the laying of cables and pipelines. Over 90% of all commercially exploitable fish stocks, 87% of all world’s submarine oil deposits and 10% of manganese nodules are within the 200 miles (EEZ).

Historical roots lie mostly in the Truman and other continental shelf proclamations since 1945, also in the preparations for UNCLOS III. The concept of EEZ was put forward for the fist time in 1971 by Kenya to the Asian – African Legal Consultative Committee. There is no obligation under the Convention (UNCLOS) on a State to claim an EEZ.

Delimitation of the EEZ
The inner limit of the EEZ is the outer limit of the territorial sea. Why 200 miles? It has both historical and political reasons and no geographical, ecological or biological significance. The claims of 200 miles were done by some Latin American and African States at the beginning of UNCLOS. It was thought to be the easiest way to reach agreement about the EEZ by choosing the figure that represented the broadest existing claims rather than to persuade States to accept some lesser limit.

In many regions States are unable to claim a full 200 mile zone because of the presence of neighbouring States.

The Legal Status of the EEZ
Articles 55 and 86 un UNCLOS make it clear that the EEZ does not have a residual high seas character. The EEZ is to be regarded as a separate functional zone of a sui generis character, situated between the territorial sea and the high seas.

The rights and duties of the coastal State in the EEZ
 - The natural recourses of the EEZ falls under six board headings.

- Non-living resources: the costal States have “sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing” the non living natural resources of the sea bed and subsoil and the superjacent waters.

- Living resources: Article 56 does provide the same rights over living resources as the non-living. These rights, together with certain main duties imposed on the costal State are spelt out in detail in art. 61 to 73.

- Other economic recourses: Art. 56 give the costal States rights to production of energy from the water, currents and winds.

- Construction of artificial islands and installations:  See art.60.

- Marine scientific research: See art. 56. Article 241 provides that the coastal State has “the right to regulate, authorise and conduct” scientific research in its EEZ. See also art. 246.

- Pollution control: See Part XII section 5 and 6. Part XII of the Convention gives the coastal State legislative and enforcement competence in its EEZ to deal with the dumping of waste.

The rights and duties of other States in the EEZ
Navigation: Article 58 provides that in the EEZ all States enjoy the freedoms referred to in article 87 of navigation. Freedom of navigation in the EEZ is subject to the provision of articles 88 to 115.
Over flight: All States enjoy freedom of over flight in the EEZ (art. 58).
Laying of submarine cables and pipelines: All States enjoy the freedom of laying submarine cables and pipelines in the EEZ and other internationally lawful uses of the sea related to this freedom compatible with the other provision of the Convention. See articles 112 to 115, they deal with the question of broken or damaged cables and pipelines.

Relationship between the rights of the coastal State and the rights of other States
Article 60 is designed to avoid conflicts between the right of the coastal State to construct artificial islands or installations and the rights of foreign shipping. Part XII is similar in order to minimise interference with foreign shipping. In some other cases, the Convention contains no specific rules to avoid conflicts.

Significance of the EEZ
Many of the developing States lack the necessary capital and manpower to manage their EEZ properly and benefit from its resources. It is likely that the introduction of the EEZ concept has not produced as much material gain for the developing countries exercised by a State over its natural resources the introduction and acceptance of the EEZ was a considerable psychological gain for developing countries.

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