What is an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)?

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Australian naval personnel allegedly sustained minor injuries recently, after an “unsafe and unprofessional” conduct by a Chinese warship in international waters off Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

About Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)

  • The concept of an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) was adopted through the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • EEZ, as defined under UNCLOS, is an area of the ocean extending up to 200 nautical miles (370 km) immediately offshore from a country’s land coast in which that country retains exclusive rights to the exploration and exploitation of natural resources.
  • Under international law, within its defined EEZ, a coastal nation has:
    • Sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring, exploiting, conserving, and managing the natural resources of the seabed, subsoil, and waters above it.
    • Jurisdiction as provided for in international law with regard to the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations, and structures; marine scientific research; and the protection and preservation of the marine environment.
    • Other rights and duties provided for under international law.
  • Other States have the right for their ships and aircraft to traverse the EEZ and its airspace and to lay cable and pipelines.

What is Territorial Sea?

  • The territorial sea extends to a limit of 12 nautical miles from the baseline of a coastal State.
  • Within this zone, the coastal State exercises full sovereignty over the air space above the sea and over the seabed and subsoil.
  • A coastal State may legislate on matters concerning the safety of navigation, the preservation of the environment, and the prevention, reduction, and control of pollution without any obligation to make these rules compliant with international standards.
  • Resource use within the territorial sea is strictly reserved to the coastal State.

Q1) What is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)?

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was adopted in 1982. It lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world's oceans and seas establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources. It embodies in one instrument traditional rules for the uses of the oceans and at the same time introduces new legal concepts and regimes and addresses new concerns. The Convention also provides the framework for further development of specific areas of the law of the sea.

Source: Australia expresses concerns after China targets its divers with sonar pulses