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Geology LibreTexts

19: Special Topics -- International Cooperation and Managment

International Policy and Management

Several international and intergovernmental organizations have been founded in order to protect and manage our world's oceans. These organizations aim to control different aspects of human's interactions and use of the oceans. The duties of these organizations range from the management of vessels and maritime transport, to the education and limitation of human activities in different countries. The following serves as an overview of the duties and scope of these organizations, as well as examples of national policy that require international cooperation:

  • International Maritime Organization

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.[1]

  • Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO) [was] established in 1960 as a body with functional autonomy within UNESCO, is the only competent organization for marine science within the UN  system. [2]

The ICO is recognized through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) [3]

  • ​United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

Referred to as "The Constitution of the Oceans" [4], the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is an international and multilateral agreement on the use and protection of the world's oceans. It was ratified on 10 December 1982.[5] It sets forth the principles and limitations that allow member countries to make use of the diverse ocean resources including fishing, trade and transportation. It also outlines the policies to help protect the oceans from anthropogenic misuse. It further outlines the creation of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission under Section XIII as the competent body in the fields of Marine Scientific Research, as well as Transfer of Marine Technology under Section XIV. [6]

  • United States Commission on Ocean Policy

LAW OF THE SEA: a multilateral consortium

LOSC and Maritime Zones

Maritime zones are established through the LOSC and International Maritime Laws. These zones are marked in relation to the land's furthest extent into the ocean. A country's maritime zone extended 12 miles off the coast from it's shoreline. The laws that govern the area within the 12 mile territory are established through Trace Parallele, which establishes "internal waters" where countries may exercise their own economic ventures and conduct their laws in these territories. There exists a "  Contiguous zone " that extends 12 additional miles beyond the internal waters where a country may monitor or police for such activities as drug running. Countries must allow for "innocent passage" through their waters so long as a vessel does not contain  weapons materials, fishing gear, or other resource extraction equipment. Military ships blur the extent of which innocent passage can be applied such as U.S. vessels patrolling waters off the coast of North Korea or the Persian Gulf. 

In addition to the 12 miles off it's coastline every country is entitled to to practice internal waters law, there is an Exclusive Economic Zone that extended 188 additional miles off a country's coast. The EEZ was proposed by President Reagan to investigate deep water and open ocean resource extraction. This comes in the form of oil drilling, wind energy, and energy production. However the seabed is considered  Res Communis or "public domain". To extract resources from the seafloor, a country must pay a fee to the Seabed Authority, an entity established by international maritime law.

Resource extraction has become a driving factor in the construction of maritime policy as countries aim to collect oil and precious natural resources. China and Japan debate which nation has access to resources in parts of the South Pacific Ocean near islands that are geographically closer to China but Japan has held control over for decades. Japan claims that control of these islands entitle them to an EEZ thousands of miles beyond that of Japan's main island. The Arctic is another hotly contested area of maritime law and resource extraction. Russia, Canada, the U.S., Sweden, and Denmark all have laid claim to EEZ's in the Arctic hoping to find petroleum or other non-renewable resources under the melting ice.

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/eez.html

Resources

  1. [1] United Nations International Maritime Organization: http://www.imo.org/About/Pages/Default.aspx
  2. [2] Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission-UNESCO: http://www.ioc-unesco.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=14&Itemid=100062
  3. [3] Ibid
  4. [4] http://www.ioc-unesco.org/index.php?...&Itemid=100030
  5. [5] Ibid
  6. [6] Ibid