According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, an exclusive economic zone refers to the specific area of the water where the sovereign state is allowed to explore and use marine resources. Also known as maritime continental margin, the concept is limited to the sea within the 200 nautical mile limit. As a general rule, the exclusive economic zone of a state is beyond the territorial sea. The only exception is when the exclusive economic zones of different states overlap, which happens when the coastal lines of these states are equal to or less than 740 kilometers apart from each other. When such an overlap occurs, the states have the right to decide which portion should go where. Basically, the overlapping areas are considered to be part of the closest state.
The idea of providing each state with the right to use the exclusive economic zone for exploring maritime got popular in the late 20th century. Coming to the role of the EEZs in Antarctica, the concept is used for creating boundaries in Canada, Norway, Russia, Denmark, and the US. Each country is confined to its coasts. The water running beyond these limits is considered international waters. The resources, which these states have the right to use include water and wind. The question arises “why set exclusive economic zones”? What is its main purpose and how does it help the economy?
Exclusive Economic Zones for Different Nations: What are its Uses?
First things first, the EEZs are set by the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea for allotting a specific portion of the marine land to different states. As mentioned above, each state has the right to explore this allotted space however they want. You could use this maritime boundary with other marine boundaries to get a clear picture of the area of trade, commerce, and transportation. The exclusive economic zone is calculated from nation to nation. The states are given the right to explore both living and non-living objects within the exclusive economic zone of their state. However, these nations do not have the right to go beyond the waters within their state limits.
Put it this way, the US and other nations have jurisdiction over the exclusive economic zones of the area and natural resources within the area. In addition to exploring these resources, the states have the right to conserve and manage the living as well as non-living things within the coastal boundaries. Note that continental shelf and exclusive economic zones are not the same concepts. These are two separate maritime zones, in which the continental shelf comprises the subsoil and seabed. The exclusive economic zone, on the other hand, features the water column only. Another important thing to note here is that no country in the world has sovereignty over the exclusive economic zone of the state. France has the largest exclusive economic zone in the world, covering 11.7 million kilometers square.