Recently, India protested against the US decision to conduct a patrol in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the western Indian Ocean, rejecting the US’ claim that India’s domestic maritime law was in violation of international law.
What is the “EEZ”?
An “exclusive economic zone,” or “EEZ” is an area of the ocean, generally extending 200 nautical miles (230 miles) beyond a nation’s territorial sea, within which a coastal nation has jurisdiction over both living and nonliving resources.
The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) defined the EEZ as a zone in the sea over which a sovereign nation has certain special rights with respect to the exploration and usage of marine resources, which includes the generation of energy from wind and water, and also oil and natural gas extraction.
Rights of the country in the EEZ
The coastal state has the rights to:
- Explore and exploit, conserve and manage the natural resources (living or non-living).
- Produce energy from wind, currents and water.
- Establish and use artificial islands, structures and installations.
- Conduct marine scientific research.
- Protect and preserve the marine environment.
Exclusive Economic Zone(EEZ) of India Definition:
- India has legally defined the concept of EEZ in its “Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and Other Maritime Zones Act, 1976”.
- According to the Act, the EEZ of India is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial waters. The limit of such a zone is two hundred nautical miles from the baseline.
- Powers: In the exclusive economic zone, the Central Government has:
- Firstly, Sovereign rights for the purpose of exploration, exploitation, conservation, and management of natural resources. This includes both living and non-living as well as producing energy from tides, winds, and currents, etc.
- Secondly, the government has exclusive rights and jurisdiction over certain matters. This includes the construction, maintenance, or operation of artificial islands, off-shore terminals, installations, and other structures.
- Thirdly, the government also has exclusive jurisdiction to authorize, regulate and control scientific research;
- Further, the government has exclusive jurisdiction to preserve and protect the marine environment and also to prevent and control marine pollution
- The government also has other rights also as recognized by International Law.
India’s Exclusive Economic Zone
India has the 18th largest Exclusive Economic Zone globally with a total area of more than 2 million sq km. In the southwestern coast of India lies the Lakshadweep group island in the Laccadive Sea, and the Andaman and Nicobar lie in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. In the west, India’s EEZ is bordered by Pakistan, in the south by the Maldives and Sri Lanka, and in the east by Bangladesh, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia and Thailand.
Following is the Area km2 of India’s existing Exclusive Economic Zone:
- Area km2 of Mainland India and Lakshadweep is 1,641,514 kilometres.
- Area km2 of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is 663,629 kilometres.
- The total Area km2 after adding both the area sizes is 2,305,143 km2.
Importance of India’s EEZ
- It provides access to many resources like natural gas, oil, minerals, commercial fishing, international trade, and most importantly, national security.
- India has a greater benefit as it has a coastline stretch of 7,500 km and an Exclusive Economic Zone of more than 2 million sq km.
- India’s exclusive control over the EEZ resources is the navigation of seafaring trade and transport vessels in the zone.
- India’s exploitation of marine fishery resources is at only 3.2 million tonnes per year, where the potential of exploitation in India is 3.92 million tonnes per year in the coastal areas.