Costs and benefits arising from the establishment of maritime zones in the Mediterranean Sea

Costs and benefits arising from the establishment of maritime zones in the Mediterranean Sea.
On 11 September 2009 the European Commission adopted a Communication entitled ‘Towards an Integrated Maritime Policy for better governance in the Mediterranean’.1 The Communication, which was prepared within the framework of the European Union’s Integrated Maritime Policy, identified a number of challenges relating to maritime governance in the Mediterranean and proposed a set of actions aimed at driving coastal States towards a more co-ordinated and holistic approach to the management of activities impacting on the sea and coastal areas.

A particular feature of the Mediterranean Sea is that unlike other semi-enclosed seas, such as the Baltic Sea or the Black Sea, many coastal States have not claimed maritime zones that they are entitled to establish under international law. Such maritime zones include contiguous zones, so-called ‘contiguous archaeological zones’ and Exclusive Economic Zones as well a range of maritime zones (such as fisheries zones, fisheries protection zones, ecological protection zones, ecological and fisheries protection zones) that derive from the rights of coastal States to claim Exclusive Economic Zones. The result is that large areas of the Mediterranean have, until recently at least, remained beyond the jurisdiction of coastal States and under the regime of the high seas.

As noted in the Communication of 11 September 2009 this raises particular governance issues. And the governance challenges for the Mediterranean are significant: the Communication goes on to note that the Mediterranean Sea is subject to very high pressure from economic activities witnessed inter alia by the fact that it bears 30% of global sea-borne traffic (including a quarter of worldwide sea-borne oil traffic), that half of the European Union (EU) fishing fleet is active there and that its coastal population of 150 million people doubles each year during the tourist season. Growing human and economic development has resulted in increased environmental degradation. Other specific challenges include security issues linked to smuggling and clandestine migration.

While seven of the Mediterranean coastal States are EU members (one is an acceding country2, two are candidate countries3 and two are potential candidate countries4) it is important to note at the outset that the declaration of maritime zones and the choice of the nature of any such claims, is a sovereign right of each State and such fundamental matters relating to the sovereignty of the Member States concerned, can only be determined by those Member States themselves pursuant to their own national priorities and in accordance with international law. The EU has no competence in the field but the choices made by EU Member States have a direct bearing on some of the EU policies, in particular, but not only, the Common Fisheries Policy and environmental policy.

The main purpose of this Study is to inform the debate over maritime governance in the Mediterranean by shedding light on the costs and benefits of establishing maritime zones in the Mediterranean in accordance with international law. In effect, the Study uses a cost benefit approach to analyse different scenarios even as regards activities that are not in themselves ‘economic’ activities and may necessitate a more indirect approach.

Section two of this report contains a review of the relevant provisions of international law relating to maritime zoning as well as a description of the impacts of the establishment of such zones on specific maritime activities.

As will be seen in section three, the current situation regarding the establishment of maritime zones in the Mediterranean is, in fact, somewhat dynamic. This section contains a classification of existing maritime zones in the Mediterranean together with a description of the current situation with regard to maritime boundary delimitation as well as other types of maritime area.
Section four of this report contains an analysis of the legal impacts of the potential establishment of maritime zones in the Mediterranean in terms both of international law and EU law: the Mediterranean States that are EU members, as well as acceding, candidate and potential candidate countries, are also subject to a range of EU policies relating to the use and protection of the Mediterranean and its resources in particular and to maritime issues in general.

The analysis contained in section four sets out the basis for the cost benefit analysis which makes up the remainder of this report. The methodology is described in section five while cost benefit analysis of the main impacted areas are the subject of sections six to 11. Over-arching factors are the subject of section 12 while section 13 contains a synthesis of cost benefit indicators.