According to the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, the Continental Shelf is the area of the seabed and subsoil that extends beyond the territorial sea to a distance of 200 nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline and beyond that distance to the outer edge of the continental margin.
Coastal states have sovereign rights over the continental shelf (the national area of the seabed) for exploring and exploiting it; the shelf can extend at least 200 nautical miles from the shore, and more under specified circumstances.
The territorial sea is defined under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as the 12-nautical mile zone from the baseline or low-waterline along the coast. The coastal state’s sovereignty extends to the territorial sea, including its sea-bed, subsoil, and air space above it.
Management and Protection of Claimed Exclusive Economic Zone
Under UNCLOS, coastal States can claim sovereign rights in a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). This allows for exploration, exploitation, conservation, and management of all natural resources in the seabed, its subsoil, and overlaying waters. UNCLOS allows other states to navigate and fly over the EEZ, as well as to lay submarine cables and pipelines.
The inner limit of the EEZ starts at the outer boundary of the territorial sea. Under UNCLOS, “land-locked and geographically disadvantaged states have the right to participate on an equitable basis in the exploitation of an appropriate part of the surplus of the living resources of the EEZs of coastal States of the same region or sub-region.”
In conclusion, all fresh and saline water is subject to disturbances. This implies that for them to remain as useful resources, they must be properly managed and protected against human and other influences.
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