Prior to the mid-20th Century coastal state jurisdiction rarely extended more than three nautical miles offshore. Since then, there has been a tremendous increase in the maritime space coming under the jurisdiction of coastal states. Indeed, it has been estimated that if all coastal states were to exert their maximum possible claims (excluding extended continental shelf claims), around 44.5% of the world ocean would fall under some form of national jurisdiction (Pruett, 2004).
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 established a number of maritime zones, each of which varies in the degree of exclusive rights and control afforded to a coastal state: internal waters, archipelagic waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf. These maritime zones are of crucial importance to coastal states for numerous reasons.
The rights coastal states have in certain maritime zones, notably internal waters, the territorial sea and contiguous zone, affords them security in the face of threats such as smuggling, illegal immigration, other forms of cross-border crime and, ultimately, from the threat of terrorism and the use of military force. The national maritime zones outlined in the UN Convention also offer profound benefits to coastal states in respect of resources, both living resources such as fisheries and non-living resources such as oil and gas. Furthermore, the rights and responsibilities relating to national maritime zones as laid down in the 1982 Convention provide coastal states with opportunities and obligations in the sphere of ocean management. This includes, but is not limited to, navigation, fisheries protection, conservation of living resources, pollution control, search and rescue and marine scientific research.
Beyond these zones of national maritime jurisdiction lie the high seas and the international seabed area. In this context it is also worth noting that in certain circumstances these various zones may overlap. For example, rights to the continental shelf are confirmed by claims to territorial waters and an exclusive economic zone.