Marine science and the Law of the Sea


  • David A. Ross


Articles about the Law of the Sea Conference and its implications are certainly not among the most popular literature for marine scientists. Unfortunately, however, this conference and the Draft Convention it is now considering may have more impact on marine science than any of our recent discoveries and hypotheses.

The present law of the sea negotiations (more correctly called the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS III) officially started in 1973. Over 150 countries are involved in what is easily the most complex series of negotiations ever conducted. Among the important issues are freedom of navigation for military and commercial vessels, environmental protection, resource access and control, and many legal aspects as well as procedures governing marine science in about 40 percent of the ocean. How these meetings evolved, pros and cons of the major issues, and negotiating techniques are discussed elsewhere [see, for example, Darman, 1979; Kronmiller, 1979; Breaux, 1979; Aldrich, 1980; Richardson, 1980].