Exclusive economic zone
An exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is a sea zone prescribed by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea over which a state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind. It stretches from the baseline out to 200 nautical miles (nmi) from its coast. In colloquial usage, the term may include the continental shelf. The term does not include either the territorial sea or the continental shelf beyond the 200 nmi limit. The difference between the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone is that the first confers full sovereignty over the waters, whereas the second is merely a “sovereign right” which refers to the coastal state’s rights below the surface of the sea. The surface waters, as can be seen in the map, are international waters.
Generally, a state’s exclusive economic zone is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea, extending seaward to a distance of no more than 200 nmi (370 km) out from its coastal baseline. The exception to this rule occurs when exclusive economic zones would overlap; that is, state coastal baselines are less than 400 nmi (740 km) apart. When an overlap occurs, it is up to the states to delineate the actual maritime boundary. Generally, any point within an overlapping area defaults to the nearest state.
A state’s exclusive economic zone starts at the seaward edge of its territorial sea and extends outward to a distance of 200 nmi (370 km) from the baseline. The exclusive economic zone stretches much further into sea than the territorial waters, which end at 12 nmi (22 km) from the coastal baseline (if following the rules set out in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea). Thus, the exclusive economic zones includes the contiguous zone. States also have rights to the seabed of what is called the continental shelf up to 350 nmi (650 km) from the coastal baseline, beyond the exclusive economic zones, but such areas are not part of their exclusive economic zones. The legal definition of the continental shelf does not directly correspond to the geological meaning of the term, as it also includes the continental rise and slope, and the entire seabed within the exclusive economic zone.
The idea of allotting nations EEZs to give them more control of maritime affairs outside territorial limits gained acceptance in the late 20th century.
Initially, a country’s sovereign territorial waters extended 3 nmi or 5.6 km (range of cannon shot) beyond the shore. In modern times, a country’s sovereign territorial waters extend to 12 nmi (22 km) beyond the shore. One of the first assertions of exclusive jurisdiction beyond the traditional territorial seas was made by the United States in the Truman Proclamation of September 28, 1945. However, it was Chile and Peru respectively that first claimed maritime zones of 200 nautical miles with the Presidential Declaration Concerning Continental Shelf of 23 June 1947 (El Mercurio, Santiago de Chile, 29 June 1947) and Presidential Decree No. 781 of 1 August 1947 (El Peruano: Diario Oficial. Vol. 107, No. 1983, 11 August 1947).
It was not until 1982 with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea that the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone was formally adopted.
The exact extent of exclusive economic zones is a common source of conflicts between states over marine waters.
- Norway and Russia dispute both territorial sea and EEZ with regard to the Svalbard archipelago as it affects Russia’s EEZ due to its unique treaty status. A treaty was agreed in principle in April 2010 between the two states and subsequently ratified, resolving this demarcation dispute. The agreement was signed in Murmansk on September 15, 2010.
- The South China Sea (and the Spratly Islands) is the site of an ongoing dispute between several neighboring nations.
- Croatia‘s ZERP (Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone) in the Adriatic Sea caused friction with Italy and Slovenia, and caused problems during Croatia’s accession to the European Union.
- A wedge-shaped section of the Beaufort Sea is disputed between Canada and the United States, as the area reportedly contains substantial oil reserves.
- France claims a portion of Canada’s EEZ for Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon based on a new definition of the continental shelf and EEZ between the two countries. Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon is entirely surrounded by Canada’s EEZ.
- Mauritius claims EEZ for Tromelin from France and EEZ for British Indian Ocean Territory from the UK.
- Turkey claims a portion of Cyprus‘s EEZ based on Turkey’s peculiar definition that no islands, including Cyprus, can have full EEZ and should only entitled to a 12 nautical mile reduced EEZ rather than the usual 200 that Turkey and every other country are entitled to, including an area to the south of Cyprus containing an offshore gas field. Furthermore, the internationally unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which was created as result of the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus, also claims portions of Cypriot EEZ. Cyprus and the international community do not acknowledge the Turkish claims on Cyprus’s land and sea, which are viewed as illegal under international law[a] and urge Turkey to restrain itself from illegal drilling for gas in the island’s EEZ.[b] Furthermore, EU has threatened Turkey with economic and political sanctions for violating the Cypriot EEZ.
- Lebanon claims that the agreement between Cyprus and Israel overlapped its own EEZ.
- The Cod Wars between the United Kingdom and Iceland occurred periodically over many decades, until they were resolved with a final agreement in 1976.
- In 1999, following the Hanish Islands conflict, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that the EEZs of Yemen and Eritrea should be demarcated equidistantly between the mainlands of the two nations, without taking account of sovereignty over the islands.
- In 2009, in a dispute between Romania and Ukraine over Snake Island, the UN International Court of Justice decided that Snake Island has no EEZ beyond 12 nautical miles of its own land.
Fisheries management, usually adhering to guidelines set by the FAO, provides significant practical mechanisms for the control of EEZs. Transboundary fish stocks are an important concept in this control.
Transboundary stocks are fish stocks that range in the EEZs of at least two countries. Straddling stocks, on the other hand, range both within an EEZ as well as in the high seas, outside any EEZ. A stock can be both transboundary and straddling.
Australia‘s Exclusive Economic Zone was declared on 1 August 1994, and extends from 12 nautical miles to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coastline of Australia and its external territories, except where a maritime delimitation agreement exists with another state. To the 12 nautical miles boundary is Australia’s territorial waters. Australia has the third largest exclusive economic zone, behind France and the United States, but ahead of Russia, with the total area of 8,148,250 square kilometres, which actually exceeds its land territory.
The United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf confirmed, in April 2008, Australia’s rights over an additional 2.5 million square kilometres of seabed beyond the limits of Australia’s EEZ. Australia also claimed, in its submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, additional Continental Shelf past its EEZ from the Australian Antarctic Territory, but these claims were deferred on Australia’s request. However, Australia’s EEZ from its Antarctic Territory is approximately 2 million square kilometres.
|Heard and McDonald Islands||410,722|
|Mainland Australia, Tasmania and minor islands||6,048,681|
|Australian Antarctic Territory||2,000,000[status 1]|
Brazil’s EEZ includes areas around the Fernando de Noronha Islands, St Paul and St. Peter Archipelago and the Trindade and Martim Islands.
|Brazil||2 570 917|
|Fernando de Noronha||363 362|
|St Paul and St. Peter Archipelago||413 636|
|Trindade & Martim Vaz Isl.||468 599|
|Total||3 830 955|
In 2004, the country submitted its claims to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) to extend its maritime continental margin.
Canada is unusual in that its exclusive economic zone, covering 5,599,077 km2 (2,161,816 sq mi), 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 (560 km; 350 mi) across), the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the internal waters of the Arctic archipelago.
|Region||EEZ Area (km2)||Land area||Total|
|Mainland||1 975 760||755 757||2 731 517|
|Desventuradas||449 836||5||449 841|
|Easter||720 412||164||720 576|
|Juan Fernandez||502 524||100||502 624|
|Total||3 648 532||755 921||4 404 453|
The first figure excludes all disputed waters, while the last figure indicates China’s claimed boundaries, and does not take into account neighboring powers’ claims.
The Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus covers more than 70,000 km2 and is divided between 13 exploration blocks. The process of the establishment of Cyprus, Israel and Lebanon Exclusive Economic Zones was held in Nicosia in 2010 with separate meetings between each country. Cyprus and Israel as part of their wider cooperation have agreed to start their gas explorations with a common American company, specifically Noble Energy. Cypriot and Israeli governments are discussing to export their natural gas through the shipping of compressed Natural Gas to Greece and then to the rest of Europe or through a subsea Pipelines starting from Israel and then leading to Greece via Cyprus.
|Region||EEZ & TW Area (km2)||Land area||Total|
|Denmark||105 989||42 506||149 083|
|Faroe Islands||260 995||1 399||262 394|
|Greenland||2 184 254||2 166 086||4 350 340|
|Total||2 551 238||2 210 579||4 761 817|
Due to its numerous overseas departments and territories scattered on all oceans of the planet, France possesses the largest EEZ in the world, covering 11,691,000 km2 (4,513,920 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.
According to published maps, the Israel government has recognized the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of Greece and Cyprus. They describe the course of the gas pipeline which will transfer gas produced by American Νoble Εnergy Ltd. from the Leviathan reservoir to Europe, through an undersea pipeline crossing Greece. The gas pipeline should traverse the sea area, which according to international law, is part of the Greek EEZ. By this proposal, Israel recognizes the Greek EEZ in the area and offers an advantage that Greece can use during negotiation procedures to support its claims on the area. In practice, this cooperation will set up a powerful energy coalition between Greece, Cyprus and Israel. The mining and operating part will be undertaken by an American company. “The substance of the issue is that in an effort to protect and secure vital Israeli interests in the Mediterranean Sea, Israel has been left with no choice other than to officially delimit its maritime borders”.
- Mainland India and Lakshadweep, 1,641,514 km2
- Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 663,629 km2
- Total: 2,305,143 km2
India is currently seeking to extend its EEZ to 350 miles.
In 2010, an agreement was signed with Cyprus concerning the limit of territorial waters between Israel and Cyprus at the maritime halfway point, a clarification essential for safeguarding Israel’s rights to oil and underwater gas reservoirs. The agreement was signed in Nicosia by Israeli Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau and the Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou. The two countries agreed to cooperate in the development of any cross border resources discovered, and to negotiate an agreement on dividing joint resources.
|Pacific Ocean (Japan)||1,162,334|
|Sea of Japan||630,721|
|Sea of Okhotsk||235|
Japan has disputes over its EEZ boundaries with all its Asian neighbors (Russia, Republic of Korea, China and Taiwan). The above, and relevant maps at the Sea Around Us Project both indicate Japan’s claimed boundaries, and do not take into account neighboring powers’ claims.
Japan also refers to various categories of “shipping area” – Smooth Water Area, Coasting Area, Major or Greater Coasting Area, Ocean Going Area – but it is unclear whether these are intended to have any territorial or economic implications.
Mexico‘s exclusive economic zones comprise a total surface area of 3,144,295 km2, and places Mexico among the countries with the largest areas in the world. This puts Mexico’s total territory as 5,153,735 km2.
New Zealand‘s EEZ covers 4,083,744 km2 (1,576,742 sq mi), which is approximately fifteen times the land area of the country. Sources vary significantly on the size of New Zealand’s EEZ; for example, a recent government publication gave the area as roughly 4,300,000 km2. These figures are for the EEZ of New Zealand proper, and do not include the EEZs of other territories in the Realm of New Zealand (Tokelau, Niue, the Cook Islands and the Ross Dependency).
The exclusive economic zone of North Korea stretches 200 nautical miles from its basepoints in both the West Sea (Yellow Sea) and the Sea of Japan. The EEZ was declared in 1977 after North Korea had contested the validity of the Northern Limit Lines (NLL) set up after the Korean War as maritime borders. The EEZ has not been codified in law and North Korea has never specified its coordinates, making it difficult to determine its specific scope.
In the West Sea, the EEZ remains unspecified in the Korean Bay because China has not determined its own EEZ in the area. The border between the North Korean and South Korean EEZs in the West Sea cannot be determined because of potential overlap and disputes over certain islands.
In the Sea of Japan, the North Korean EEZ can be approximated to be trapezoidal-shaped. The border between North Korea and Russia’s respective EEZs is the only such border that has been determined in East Asia. Here, the EEZ does not cause many problems, even with regards to South Korea, because the sea is not thought to be rich in resources.
In April 2009, the United Nations Commission for the Limits of the Continental Shelf approved Norway’s claim to an additional 235,000 square kilometres of continental shelf. The commission found that Norway and Russia both had valid claims over a portion of shelf in the Barents Sea.
|Region||EEZ & TW Area (km2)||Land area||Total|
|Mainland||1 273 482||323 802||1 597 284|
|Svalbard||402 574||61 002||463 576|
|Jan Mayen||273 118||373||273 491|
|Bouvet Island||436 004||49||436 053|
|Total||2 385 178||385 226||2 770 404|
Portugal has the 20th largest EEZ in the world. Presently, it is divided in three non-contiguous sub-zones:
Portugal submitted a claim to extend its jurisdiction over additional 2.15 million square kilometers of the neighboring continental shelf in May 2009, resulting in an area with a total of more than 3,877,408 km2. The submission, as well as a detailed map, can be found in the Task Group for the extension of the Continental Shelf website.
Spain disputes the EEZ’s southern border, maintaining that it should be drawn halfway between Madeira and the Canary Islands. But Portugal exercises sovereignty over the Savage Islands, a small archipelago north of the Canaries, claiming an EEZ border further south. Spain objects, arguing that the Savage Islands do not have a separate continental shelf, citing article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
- Kaliningrad (Baltic Sea) – 11,634 km2
- St. Petersburg (Baltic Sea) – 12,759 km2
- Barents Sea – 1,308,140 km2
- Black Sea (without the Crimean EEZ) – 66,854 km2
- Pacific – 3,419,202 km2
- Siberia – 3,277,292 km2
- Total – 8,095,881 km2
- 825,052 km2
- Mainland – 1,068,659 km2
- Prince Edward islands – 466,879 km2
Area: 300,851 (225,214) km2
The United Kingdom’s exclusive economic zone is the fifth largest in the world at 6,805,586 square km. It comprises the exclusive economic zones surrounding the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies, and the British Overseas Territories. The figure does not include the EEZ of the British Antarctic Territory. The exclusive economic zones associated with the Falkland Islands and South Georgia are disputed by Argentina. The EEZ of the Chagos archipelago also known as the British Indian Ocean Territory is also disputed with Mauritius which considers the EEZ as part of its territory.
The UK was late to establish an EEZ, relying on overlapping maritime zones for fisheries, pollution control, and energy matters. The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 gave the powers to establish an EEZ, with the zone defined by which came into force on 31 March 2014.
Only the United Kingdom and Gibraltar are part of the EU. The Crown dependencies and the remaining overseas territories (that is, all except Gibraltar) are not part of the EU. The United Kingdom has not as yet claimed its rights with regards to Gibraltar or the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus.
|United Kingdom||773,676||298,718||includes Rockall and the Isle of Man|
|British Indian Ocean Territory||638,568||246,552||disputed with Mauritius|
|British Virgin Islands||80,117||30,933|
|Falkland Islands||550,872||212,693||disputed with Argentina|
|Gibraltar||426||164||disputed with Spain|
|South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands||1,449,532||559,667||disputed with Argentina|
|Tristan da Cunha archipelago†||754,720||291,400|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||154,068||59,486|
†Part of the overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, which together has an EEZ of 1,641,294 square km.
The United States’ exclusive economic zone is the second largest in the world, covering 11,351,000 km2. Areas of its EEZ are located in three oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea.
The sizes of the components of the US EEZ/territorial seas are (in decreasing size):
- Alaska – 3,770,021 km2 (1,455,613 sq mi)
- Hawaii – Northwest Islands – 1,579,538 km2 (609,863 sq mi)
- U.S. East Coast – 915,763 km2 (353,578 sq mi)
- Hawaii – Main Islands – 895,346 km2 (345,695 sq mi)
- U.S. West Coast – 825,549 km2 (318,746 sq mi)
- Northern Marianas – 749,268 km2 (289,294 sq mi)
- Mainland Gulf Coast – 707,832 km2 (273,295 sq mi)
- Johnston Atoll – 442,635 km2 (170,902 sq mi)
- Howland and Baker Islands – 434,921 km2 (167,924 sq mi)
- Wake Island – 407,241 km2 (157,237 sq mi)
- American Samoa – 404,391 km2 (156,136 sq mi)
- Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef – 352,300 km2 (136,000 sq mi)
- Jarvis Island – 316,665 km2 (122,265 sq mi)
- Guam – 221,504 km2 (85,523 sq mi)
- Puerto Rico – 177,685 km2 (68,605 sq mi)
- U.S. Virgin Islands – 33,744 km2 (13,029 sq mi)
Total: 11,351,000 km2 (4,383,000 sq mi)
Rankings by area
This list includes dependent territories within their sovereign states (including uninhabited territories), but does not include claims on Antarctica. EEZ+TIA is exclusive economic zone (EEZ) plus total internal area (TIA) which includes land and internal waters.
|Rank||Country||EEZ km2||Shelf km2||EEZ+TIA km2|
|14||Federated States of Micronesia||2,996,419||19,403||2,997,121|
|16||Papua New Guinea||2,402,288||191,256||2,865,128|
|88||São Tomé and Príncipe||131,397||1,902||132,361|
|97||Antigua and Barbuda||110,089||4,128||110,531|
|105||Trinidad and Tobago||74,199||25,284||79,329|
|111||United Arab Emirates||58,218||57,474||141,818|
|115||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||36,302||1,561||36,691|
|120||Congo, Republic of the||31,017||7,982||373,017|
|138||Saint Kitts and Nevis||9,974||653||10,235|
|143||Democratic Republic of the Congo||1,606||1,593||2,346,464|
|150||Bosnia and Herzegovina||50||50||51,259|
|160||Central African Republic||622,984|
- Air Defense Identification Zone
- Continental shelf
- International waters
- R v Marshall
- Special economic zone
- Territorial waters
|a.||^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has been recognized as an independent state by 112 out of 193 United Nations member states, while 12 states have recognized Kosovo only to later withdraw their recognition.|
- The reference gives an approximate figure of 2 million square kilometres for the EEZ claimed by Australia as part of its Antarctic Territory. This is in addition to the 8 million square kilometre total given in the reference. This EEZ is also distinct from the 2.56 million square kilometres of additional continental shelf mentioned in the reference.
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There is little data concerning recognition of the ‘legal status’ of religions in the occupied territories, since any acts of the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ are not recognized by either the Republic of Cyprus or the international community.
- Quigley (2010-09-06). The Statehood of Palestine. Cambridge University Press. p. 164. ISBN 978-1-139-49124-2.
The international community found this declaration invalid, on the ground that Turkey had occupied territory belonging to Cyprus and that the putative state was therefore an infringement on Cypriot sovereignty.
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The occupied territory included 70 percent of the island’s economic potential with over 50 percent of the industrial … In addition, since partition Turkey encouraged mainland immigration to northern Cyprus. … The international community, excluding Turkey, condemned the unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) as a.
- Dr Anders Wivel; Robert Steinmetz (28 March 2013). Small States in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-4094-9958-9.
To this day, it remains unrecognised by the international community, except by Turkey
- Peter Neville (22 March 2013). Historical Dictionary of British Foreign Policy. Scarecrow Press. p. 293. ISBN 978-0-8108-7371-1.
…Ecevit ordered the army to occupy the Turkish area on 20 July 1974. It became the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, but Britain, like the rest of the international community, except Turkey, refused to extend diplomatic recognition to the enclave. British efforts to secure Turkey’s removal from its surrogate territory after 1974 failed.
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EEZ waters of: Brazil 2,570,917 km², Fernando de Noronha 363,362 km², St Paul and St. Peter Archipelago 413,636 km², Trindade & Martim Vaz Isl. 468,599 km²
- UN Continental Shelf and UNCLOS Article 76: Brazilian Submission
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- See Around Us Project (n.d.). “Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ)”. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
EEZ waters of: Chile 1,975,760 km², Desventuradas Isl. 449,836 km², Easter Isl. 720,412 km², J. Fernandez, Felix and Ambrosio Isl. 502,524 km²
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- including areas recommended by “CLCS”.
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- Geographic location[permanent dead link]
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- Prescott & Schofield 2001, p. 25.
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- Lacleta Muñoz, José Manuel: “Las fronteras de España en el mar”. Documentos de trabajo 34-2004, Real Instituto Elcano
- “PREAMBLE TO THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA”. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
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- Considering the maritime areas claimed, the total area of the Argentine reaches 6 581 500 km²
- Suk Kyoon Kim (2017). Maritime Disputes in Northeast Asia: Regional Challenges and Cooperation. Leiden: BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-34422-8.
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- marineregions.org interactive map, showing boundaries and disputes
- 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
- GIS data: VLIZ.be
- Foreign Military Activities in Asian EEZs: Conflict Ahead? by Mark J. Valencia (May 2011)
- EEZ Management