Incidents at Sea


Sea and oceans are major sources of movement of people and goods from one part of the world to another. The sovereignty of state extends to 12 nautical miles from the baseline of the coast into the sea. Up to the jurisdiction of 200 nm a coastal state may enjoy sovereignty and can use Sea water for different purposes like exploring and exploitation of deep water mineral and oil resources, for fishing, scientific research, and economic activities, and for humanitarian and military exercises. Many disputes of overlapping sovereignty and exploitation of deep water natural resources exist between the coastal states. South China Sea dispute is the major example of overlapping sovereignty disputes which involves almost six coastal states these are China, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia over the islands of Scarborough Shoal, Spratly and Paracel islands. Conflict is over the islands that are rich in oil and mineral resources. The dispute has resulted in serious security threats amongst the states. In early 2012 a military stand-off between China and Philippines took place, as both blamed each other of intruding into their territory. Another example of sovereignty disputes over sea water and islands is between China and Japan in East China Sea.

Another major problem, which can cause unpleasant incidents, is maritime pollution. Sea water covers almost 71% of the total area of the earth, and is critical for billions of lives. Therefore, prevention of sea pollution is in the interest of humanity. Unluckily due to lack of awareness about the seriousness of the issue, seas and oceans are getting more polluted day by day. Sewage and dumping of chemical and biological wastage in the sea, unintended oil spills from vessels and off-shore drilling of oil, cause sea pollution. Consequences of sea pollution are serious. Pollutants can be both organic and mineral resources. Living resources of the sea destroy or become unhealthy for utilization. The worsening of water quality can lead to poisoning and illnesses and have sever repercussions on the economy of coastal states by discouraging environment for fishing, leisure activities or water being used for industrial and other purposes.

Many incidents at sea happen due to the incomplete information, weak surveillance and navigation which can result in serious accidents at sea. They can cause disputes between the coastal states. The coastal states are responsible for strong surveillance with in their defined zones to avoid mishaps. Freedom of navigation and surveillance is very important to avoid safety and security threats which may harm coastal states especially. To avoid these threats each coastal state has to play its part by increasing surveillance through using satellites and other latest technology to keep an eye over high seas and to get awareness about the activities taking place in the sea with in their jurisdiction. Surveillance at sea has broader scope comprising of different actions i.e. detecting and sensing any problem, assessing and evaluating threat, communicating/coordinating and taking proper action in time to prevent any incident. Along with surveillance exchange of information between the bordering coastal states is necessary to avoid conflicts.  


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