The UNEP committee runs into an issue on sovereignty and responsibility
While discussing fishing practices and the problem of plastic contamination in the world’s oceans, a question was posed. Who owns the oceans? After the delegation of France claimed that nobody owns the oceans, a remark made by a member of the committee, “what about the Indian Ocean”, confusion seemed to take a lead in the conversation.
The Chinese delegation reassured that they had authority over their ocean so what is the truth?
The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) enacted in 1994, established that countries have exclusive exploitation rights up to 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) from their baseline. This means that countries may pursue economic activity in these areas, known as Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), such as fishing and drilling.
Beyond that, the rest of the oceans fall under the ownership of the entire world as a whole. Oceans provide the Earth with many services such as heat regulation and are a major driver of the climate and weather. From hurricanes to ocean currents, the oceans are to be protected by every country regardless of the measure of their sovereignty. – Alonso Munoz