India and International Maritime Laws - Daily Current Affair Article


Indian law enforcement agencies need to be more targeted for the implementation of maritime laws, given the increasing activities at sea.


  • Centuries ago, Hugo Grotius of Holland gave the hypothesis of independent oceans, saying that all oceans are the property of all the nations of the world and any country in the world can use any ocean for any purpose.
  • This hypothesis proved to be as much controversy-provoking as the criteria of humanitarian idealism because almost all countries of the world could not allow the exploitation of the resources of their maritime parts.
  • Along with this, in today's time, the importance of the sea is constantly increasing in changing geopolitical circumstances. In such a situation, maritime laws need to be targeted more to all countries and internationally.

Importance of oceans

  • The ocean is not only a symbol of life on our earth but also plays a major role in balancing the environment.
  • With a vast reservoir of water spread over a vast area of the Earth, the oceans contain many small fragile ecosystems inside and around them, causing various kinds of fauna and flora to thrive in those places. The coral reef area in the sea is an example of one such ecosystem which is a symbol of unlimited biodiversity.
  • Oceans are the major factors determining the Earth's weather. The quality of seawater salinity and specific heat dissipation affect the Earth's weather.
  • Important economic cities all over the world such as Mumbai, New York, Beijing, etc. are located on the coast, that is, the sea is an important means of economic activity.
  • The importance of oceans has increased with the changing geopolitical environment. The increasing global activity in the Indo-Pacific region along with global tensions over the South China Sea is a testimony to this.
  • More than 70% of the world's trade is done through oceans.

International maritime law treaty

  • The United Nations Maritime Law Treaty is an international agreement that determines the rights and responsibilities of countries over the world's seas and oceans and establishes rules for the use of maritime instruments.
  • This treaty was envisaged in 1982 and came into force in 1994. A rule was put in it that it will not apply to anyone until 60 countries of the world sign it. In 1994, Guyana signed it as the sixtieth country and then it became the form of international sea law of the world.
  • This treaty is called 'United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea' (UNCLOS).

The following provisions are included under this international sea law

  • Inner Water - It addresses the reservoirs and rivers that fall under the terrestrial boundary of a country. Nations can make rules of their own will. No other nation's boat has any right to enter or use them.
  • Regional Water - The area within 12 nautical miles from the coast of a nation is considered the territory of that nation. In this, that nation can make its laws and use whatever means it can. This is its prime area.
  • Nearby regions - from territorial waters and up to 12 nautical miles (ie 24 nautical miles from the coast), nations have the right to enforce their laws on four aspects - pollution, tax (revenue), customs, and immigration (immigration) ).
  • Exclusive Economic Zone - Only countries within the coast of the country ie 200 nautical miles from the baseline have economic rights over the means, whether it is extracting oil or other means from or under the seafloor.
    International Maritime Law Treaty and India
  • India signed the International Maritime Law Treaty (UNCLOS) of the United Nations in June 1995 and also joined the International Seabed Authority (ISBA) and the Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf (CLCS). Created the nodal agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (immediate Oceanographic Department)
  • However, India had already enacted the Maritime Sector Act of 1976. The Act came into force on 15 January 1977.
  • India's Exclusive Economic Zone is about 23.7 lakh sq km because the total coastline of India is about 7500 km, including the coastline of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep Islands.
  • India's EEZ is the twelfth largest exclusive economic zone in the world.
  • National Antarctic and Marine Research Center (NCAOR), Goa has been designated as the nodal agency for this work under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Benefits to India: -

  • The exclusive economic zone of India is large and at the same time India is situated at the mouth of the Indian Ocean from where 60-70% of the global trade takes place, hence India receives both strategic and economic benefits.
  • India has vast areas of marine wealth due to India's seaside mangroves, indigenous coral reefs, sea grasses, and marine fisheries. Due to which today India is included in the major fish producers of the world.
  • Blue economy will play an important role in the vision of India's 5 trillion economies.
  • With this, India's strategic position has also been strengthened, today India has emerged as an important power in the Asia-Pacific region.

The conclusion

Presently, the impact of human activities on the seas is also visible. The pollution levels in the coastal areas of the oceans are increasing day by day. Along with this, continuous threats from the beaches are also coming to the countries, in 2008, Ajmal Kasab entered our country through the maritime relationship. Therefore, everyone needs to be cautious for the sustainable use of seas as well as maritime security.

General Studies Paper 2
  • International Relations

Mains Question:-

  • Discuss the important provisions of the 'United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea'? Explain the importance of this treaty and oceans for India?