Marine Resources

Marine Resources – Economic significance and EEZ

Economic significance of marine resources

Marine energy

Marine energy or marine power (also sometimes referred to as ocean energy, ocean power, or marine and hydrokinetic energy) refers to the energy carried by ocean waves, tides, salinity, and ocean temperature differences. The movement of water in the world’s oceans creates a vast store of kinetic energy, or energy in motion. Some of this energy can be harnessed to generate electricity to power homes, transport and industries.  

The term marine energy encompasses both wave power i.e. power from surface waves, and tidal power i.e. obtained from the kinetic energy of large bodies of moving water. Offshore wind power is not a form of marine energy, as wind power is derived from the wind, even if the wind turbines are placed over water.  The oceans have a tremendous amount of energy and are close to many if not most concentrated populations. Ocean energy has the potential of providing a substantial amount of new renewable energy around the world.

Mineral resources in ocean

Oceans cover 70 percent of Earth’s surface, host a vast variety of geological processes responsible for the formation and concentration of mineral resources, and are the ultimate repository of many materials eroded or dissolved from the land surface. Hence, oceans contain vast quantities of materials that presently serve as major resources for humans. Today, direct extraction of resources is limited to salt; magnesium; placer gold, tin, titanium, and diamonds; and fresh water.  

Marine food resources

Food from sea is any form of sea life regarded as food by humans, prominently including fish and shellfish. Shellfish include various species of mollusks ( clams), crustaceans (shrimps), and echinoderms ( sea urchins). Historically, sea mammals such as whales and dolphins have been eaten as food, though that happens to a lesser extent in modern times. Edible sea plants such as some seaweeds and microalgae are widely eaten as sea vegetables around the world, especially in Asia. In North America, although not generally in the United Kingdom, the term “seafood” is extended to fresh water organisms eaten by humans, so all edible aquatic life may be referred to as “seafood”. For the sake of completeness, this article is inclusive of all edible aquatic life.

Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)

An exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is an area which is beyond, and is adjacent to, a given country’s territorial seas, and extends no more than 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) out from a country’s own coastlines. It can be seen that if the area for EEZ is overlapped and it is still less than 400 nautical miles, then it falls upon the respective states to delineate the actual boundaries of the coastlines. The area which is under the EEZ of a state gives them full rights to explore and exploit the marine resources in its adjacent continental shelf.

The concept of EEZ was initiated by Kenya in 1972 at the Geneva session of the UN Committee on Peaceful uses of Sea-bed and Ocean Floor Beyond the limits of National Jurisdiction. The EEZ finally found a place in the Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982. Since then, it has become a generally accepted institution of the law of the sea. In Tunisia vs Libya, it was stated that the concept of EEZ can be regarded as a part of customary laws.

Economic importance of EEZ

The EEZs have also got economic importance as they do not only set the boundaries, but are also the source of livelihood for many countries because of their fisheries, natural gas reserves, and tourism. Even the shipping of goods also takes place through these zones from many other countries. The scientific importance of EEZs includes the carrying out of scientific research on varied marine creatures, and the sampling of the seabeds for oil and natural gas purposes which can also be carried out therein. Every country has been given the right to safeguard their territorial waters, but if some countries wish to explore the resources, then they have to enter into a bilateral agreement with the respective neighboring country.

Economic importance of EEZ for india

The Indian peninsula juts 1,980 km into the Indian Ocean with 50% of the Indian Ocean basin lying within a 1500 km radius of India, a reality that has strategic implications. Between the Gulf of Aden and Malacca Strait, is seen as India’s sphere of influence. India is one of very few countries in the world to have developed the technology to extract minerals from the deep sea bed. Under the law of the sea, by adding up the sea waterways comprising territorial zone of 20 km, contiguous zone 40 km, an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 320 km, India has exclusive rights to explore mineral wealth in an area of 150,000 square km in the Indian Ocean.

India imports 70 % of its oil requirements, 4000 tankers come to Indian ports annually and almost 95 % of Indian trade moves by sea. Any interference to our sea lanes, coastal offshore areas and ports, will have a crippling impact on the country’s economic growth. Almost 3.5 million Indians work in Gulf countries and it is in India’s interest to ensure that the environment in Gulf remains stable The IO is a critical waterway for global trade and commerce. This strategic expanse hosts heavy international maritime traffic that includes half of the world’s containerized cargo, one third of its bulk cargo and two third of its oil shipment. Its waters carry heavy traffic of petroleum and petroleum products from the oilfields of the Persian Gulf and Indonesia, and contain an estimated 40% of the world’s offshore oil production. In addition to providing precious minerals and energy source, the ocean’s fish are of great importance to the bordering countries for domestic consumption and export.



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