In international maritime law, an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is a seazone over which a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources. Generally a state's EEZ extends to a distance of 200 nautical miles (370 km) out from its coast, except where resulting points would be closer to another country. Technically it does not include the state's territorial waters, so the EEZ's inner boundary follows the borders of the state's territorial waters (usually 12 nautical miles from the coast).
This concept of allotting nations EEZs to give better control of maritime affairs outside territorial limits gained acceptance in the late 20th century and was given binding international recognition by the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Part V, Article 55 states:
- Specific legal regime of the Exclusive Economic Zone
- The Exclusive Economic Zone is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea, subject to the specific legal regime established in this Part, under which the rights and jurisdiction of the coastal State and the rights and freedoms of other States are governed by the relevant provisions of this Convention.
Fisheries management is a significant aspect of the resulting control.
Disputes over the exact extent of Exclusive Economic Zones are a common source of conflict between states over marine waters. The most famous European example is probably the Cod War.
One example of where the definition of EEZ can cause problems is in regions where there is a permanent ice shelf that extends past the dirt/rock coast. A discussion on this issue is[The Legal Status of Ice in the Antarctic Region].
Rankings by area
|List of countries' EEZ by area|
|United States||11,351,000 km²|
|Australia||8 148 250 km²|
|New Zealand||4,083,744 km²|
|United Kingdom||3,973,760 km²|
|List of countries' EEZ|
plus territories onshore area
|United States||20,982,418 km²|
|New Zealand||4,352,424 km²|
- 1,641,514 km²
- Andaman Islands, 663,629 km²
- total: 2,305,143 km²
- Seas and Submerged Lands Act 1973
Australia has the third largest Exclusive Economic Zone, behind the United States and France, but ahead of Russia, with the total area exceeding that of its land territory. As per UN convention, Australia's EEZ generally extends 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coastline of Australia and its external territories, except where a maritime delimitation agreement exists with another state . Australia has also claimed, in its submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, an EEZ of 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its Antarctic Territory but has requested it not be considered, in accordance with the Antarctic Treaty. Nevertheless, Australia maintains the right to explore and exploit the seabed and water column within its EEZ.
|EEZ||Area (km²) |
|Heard & McDonald Islands||410,722|
- Continental shelf: 3,191,827 km²
- Trindade and Martin Vaz Island: 469,128 km²
- total: 3,660,955 km²
Canada is unusual in that its Exclusive Economic Zone, covering 2,755,564 km², is slightly smaller than its territorial waters . The latter generally extend only 12 nautical miles from the shore, but also include inland marine waters such as Hudson Bay (about 300 nautical miles across), the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the internal waters of the Arctic archipelago.
Due to its numerous overseas departments and territories scattered on all oceans of the planet, France possesses the second-largest EEZ in the world, covering 11,035,000 km² (4,260,000 mi²), just behind the EEZ of the United States (11,351,000 km² / 4,383,000 mi²), but ahead of the EEZ of Australia (8,232,000 km² / 3,178,000 mi²). According to a different calculation cited by the Pew Research Center, the EEZ of France would be 10,084,201 km² (3,893,532 mi²), behind the United States (12,174,629 km² / 4,700,651 mi²), but ahead of Australia (8,980,568 km² / 3,467,416 mi²) and Russia (7,566,673 km² / 2,921,508 mi²).
The EEZ of France covers approximately 8% of the total surface of all the EEZs of the world, whereas the land area of the French Republic is only 0.45% of the total land area of the Earth.
- Marcus Island: 428,875 km²
- Ogasawara Islands: 862,782 km²
- Japan (Pacific Ocean Coast): 1,162,334 km²
- Ryukyu Islands: 1,394,676 km²
- Japan (Sea of Japan): 630,721 km²
- total: 4,479,358
The Nauru EEZ is defined by the Sea Boundaries Act , and Proclamation, of 1997.
Nauru's EEZ is approximately 293,100 km² in area, 14,000 times greater than its land-area (21 km²)
- Asia: 6,382,530
- Baltic: 24,549
- Barent Sea: 1,159,594
- total 7,566,673 km²
- Ascension Islands: 443,844 km²
- British Indian Ocean Tr. (UK): 636,600 km²
- Channel Islands (UK): 6,517 km²
- Gibraltar (UK): 331 km²
- Montserrat (UK): 8,247 km²
- Pitcairn (UK): 837,221 km²
- Saint Helena (UK): 446,616 km²
- Tristan da Cunha Islands (UK): 749,612 km²
- Virgin Islands (UK): 80,701 km²
- total: 3,973,760 km²
- Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act of 1976
- ^ Geoscience Australia (2005). Maritime Boundary Definitions.
- ^ Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, Submission by Australia.
- ^ Geoscience Australia, Australian Maritime Boundaries Information System 2001. Area of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone
- ^ Wildlife Habitat Canada. Canada's Marine Waters: Integrating the Boundaries of Politics and Nature.
- ^ New Zealand Ministry for the Environment (2005). Offshore Options.
- United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea - Part V
- Sea Around Us Project - View the EEZ of all nations (Note that this site does not distinguish between territorial waters and the EEZ, and so tends to overstate EEZ areas.)
- The USA zone since 1977
- Submissions of the parties in a court case on the exercise of the right of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the exclusive economic zone of Guinea
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