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International Agreements and Customary International Principles Providing Guidance for National and Regional Ocean Policies

Authored by: Jon M. Van Dyke , Sherry P. Broder

Routledge Handbook of National and Regional Ocean Policies

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138788299
eBook ISBN: 9781315765648
Adobe ISBN: 9781317658061


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The acceptance by the negotiators at the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea 1 of the simple direct and elegant language of Article 192 of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) marked a turning point in the human stewardship of the ocean: ‘States have the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment.’ 2 Each word has importance and power. The operative word ‘obligation’ makes it clear that countries have positive duties and responsibilities, and must take action. The verbs ‘protect’ and ‘preserve’ reinforce each other, to emphasize that countries must respect the natural processes of the ocean and must act in a manner that demonstrates understanding of these processes and ensures that they continue for future generations. The ‘marine environment’ is a purposively comprehensive concept covering all aspects of the ocean world, including the water itself, its resources, the air above, and the seabed below, and all jurisdictional zones: internal waters, territorial seas, contiguous zones, exclusive economic zones (EEZs); continental shelves; archipelagic waters; and the high seas. Article 192 thus recognizes the profound responsibility that all countries have to govern the oceans in a manner that respects the marine creatures that inhabit them. The marine environment must be preserved for the benefit of those who will come later to exploit its resources, to study its mysteries, and to enjoy the many pleasures that it offers.

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