An exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as prescribed by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is an area of the sea in which a sovereign state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind. It stretches from the baseline out to 200 nautical miles (nmi) from the coast of the state in question. It is also referred to as a maritime continental margin and, in colloquial usage, may include the continental shelf. The term does not include either the territorial sea or the continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical mile limit. The difference between the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone is that the first confers full sovereignty over the waters, whereas the second is merely a "sovereign right" which refers to the coastal state's rights below the surface of the sea. The surface waters, as can be seen in the map, are international waters.


Generally, a state's exclusive economic zone is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea, extending seaward to a distance of no more than out from its coastal baseline. The exception to this rule occurs when exclusive economic zones would overlap; that is, state coastal baselines are less than apart. When an overlap occurs, it is up to the states to delineate the actual maritime boundary.William R. Slomanson, 2006. Fundamental Perspectives on International Law, 5th edn. Belmont, CA: Thomson-Wadsworth, 294. Generally, any point within an overlapping area defaults to the nearest state. A state's exclusive economic zone starts at the seaward edge of its territorial sea and extends outward to a distance of from the baseline. The exclusive economic zone stretches much further into sea than the territorial waters, which end at from the coastal baseline (if following the rules set out in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea). Thus, the exclusive economic zones includes the contiguous zone. States also have rights to the seabed of what is called the continental shelf up to from the coastal baseline, beyond the exclusive economic zones, but such areas are not part of their exclusive economic zones. The legal definition of the continental shelf does not directly correspond to the geological meaning of the term, as it also includes the continental rise and slope, and the entire seabed within the exclusive economic zone.


The idea of allotting nations EEZs to give them more control of maritime affairs outside territorial limits gained acceptance in the late 20th century. Initially, a country's sovereign territorial waters extended (range of cannon shot) beyond the shore. In modern times, a country's sovereign territorial waters extend to beyond the shore. One of the first assertions of exclusive jurisdiction beyond the traditional territorial seas was made by the United States in the Truman Proclamation of 28 September 1945. However, it was Chile and Peru respectively that first claimed maritime zones of 200 nautical miles with the Presidential Declaration Concerning Continental Shelf of 23 June 1947 (El Mercurio, Santiago de Chile, 29 June 1947) and Presidential Decree No. 781 of 1 August 1947 (El Peruano: Diario . Vol. 107, No. 1983, 11 August 1947). It was not until 1982 with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea that the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone was formally adopted.


The exact extent of exclusive economic zones is a common source of conflicts between states over marine waters. * The South China Sea is the setting for several ongoing disputes between regional powers including China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia. * Croatia's ZERP (Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone) in the Adriatic Sea caused friction with Italy and Slovenia, and caused problems during the accession of Croatia to the European Union. * A wedge-shaped section of the Beaufort Sea is disputed between Canada and the United States, as the area reportedly contains substantial oil reserves. * Mauritius claims an EEZ for Tromelin Island from France and an EEZ in respect of the British Indian Ocean Territory from the UK. An Exclusive Economic Zone covering 2.3 million square kilometres is claimed by Mauritius. * Turkey claims a portion of Cyprus's claimed EEZ based on Turkey's definition that no islands, including Cyprus, can have a full EEZ and should only be entitled to 12 nautical miles. Furthermore, the internationally unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also claims portions of Cyprus's claimed EEZ. Cyprus, intergovernmental organizations and other territories, such as the European Union, United States, Russia, Israel, Switzerland, Egypt, Saudi Arabia do not acknowledge the Turkish claims on Cyprus's land and claimed sea, and urge Turkey to restrain itself from "illegal" drilling for gas in the island's claimed EEZ. The EU has threatened Turkey with economic and political sanctions for violating Cyprus's claimed EEZ. *Greece claims a continental shelf and EEZ for each of its islands in the Aegean Sea (including Kastellorizo that has only 11.98 km² surface area) but Turkey refuses by arguing that this claim is in violation of the principle of fairness of international law. *Greece claims that the maritime deal between internationally recognized GNA government of Libya and Turkey is illegal and it signed a counter agreement with Egypt. * * Lebanon claims that the agreement between Cyprus and Israel overlapped its own EEZ. * Japan claims an EEZ around Okinotorishima, but this is disputed by China, Taiwan, and South Korea, who claim it is an islet which is incapable of generating an EEZ.

Potential disputes

Regions where a permanent ice shelf extends beyond the coastline are also a source of potential dispute.

Resolved disputes

* The Cod Wars between the United Kingdom and Iceland occurred periodically over many decades, until they were resolved with a final agreement in 1976. * In 1992, the Canada–France Maritime Boundary Case, which centred on the EEZ around the French islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, was decided by an arbitral tribunal which concurred on the whole with the arguments put forth by Canada. France was awarded 18% of the area it had originally claimed. * In 1999, following the Hanish Islands conflict, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that the EEZs of Yemen and Eritrea should be demarcated equidistantly between the mainlands of the two nations, without taking account of sovereignty over the islands. * In 2009, in a dispute between Romania and Ukraine over Snake Island, the UN International Court of Justice decided that Snake Island has no EEZ beyond 12 nautical miles of its own land. * In 2010 the Norway and Russia dispute of both territorial sea and EEZ with regard to the Svalbard archipelago as it affects Russia's EEZ due to its unique treaty status was resolved. A treaty was agreed in principle in April 2010 between the two states and subsequently officially ratified, resolving this demarcation dispute. The agreement was signed in Murmansk on 15 September 2010. * In 2014, the Netherlands and Germany resolved an old border dispute regarding the exact location of the border in the Dollart Bay.

Transboundary stocks

Fisheries management, usually adhering to guidelines set by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), provides significant practical mechanisms for the control of EEZs. Transboundary fish stocks are an important concept in this control. Transboundary stocks are fish stocks that range in the EEZs of at least two countries. Straddling stocks, on the other hand, range both within an EEZ as well as in the high seas, outside any EEZ. A stock can be both transboundary and straddling.FAO (2007) tp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/i0150e/i0150e00.pdf Report of the FAO workshop on vulnerable ecosystems and destructive fishing in deep sea fisheriesRome, Fisheries Report No. 829.

By country


Algeria on 17 April 2018 established an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off its coasts by Presidential Decree No. 18-96 of 2 Rajab 1439 corresponding to 20 March 2018. The permanent mission of Spain to the United Nations on 27 July 2018 declared its disagreement with the EEZ announced by Algeria and that the government of Spain indicated its willingness to enter into negotiations with the government of Algeria with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable agreement on the outer limits of their respective exclusive economic zones, The same was done by the Italian mission on 28 November 2018. The two countries indicated that the Algerian measure had been taken unilaterally and without consulting them. On 25 November 2018, the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent an oral note in response to the Spanish protest, explaining that the Algerian government does not recognize the largely exorbitant coordinates contained in Royal Decree 236/2013, which overlap with the coordinates of Presidential Decree n° 18–96 establishing an exclusive economic zone off the coast of Algeria. The Algerian government wished to emphasize that the unilateral delimitation carried out by Spain is not in conformity with the letter of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and has not taken into consideration the configuration, the specific characteristics and the special circumstances of the Mediterranean Sea, in particular for the case of the two countries whose coasts are located face to face, as well as the objective rules and relevant principles of international law to govern the equitable delimitation of the maritime areas between Algeria and Spain, in accordance with article 74 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Algeria expressed its willingness to negotiate for a just solution 20 June 2019 a communication from Algeria addressed to the Italian embassy and the Spanish embassy in Algiers to show their eligibility in her exclusive economic zone.


Considering the maritime areas claimed, the total area of Argentina reaches 3,849,756 km2. The recognized Argentine EEZ area is 1,159,063 km2.


Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone was declared on 1 August 1994, and extends from 12 nautical miles to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coastline of Australia and its external territories, except where a maritime delimitation agreement exists with another state.Geoscience Australia. 2005
Maritime Boundary Definitions
To the 12 nautical miles boundary is Australia's territorial waters. Australia has the third largest exclusive economic zone, behind France and the United States, but ahead of Russia, with the total area of 8,148,250 square kilometres, which actually exceeds its land territory. The United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) confirmed, in April 2008, Australia's rights over an additional 2.5 million square kilometres of seabed beyond the limits of Australia's EEZ. Australia also claimed, in its submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, additional Continental Shelf past its EEZ from the ''Australian Antarctic Territory'',Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf
Submission by Australia
/ref> but these claims were deferred on Australia's request. However, Australia's EEZ from its Antarctic Territory is approximately 2 million square kilometres.



Brazil's EEZ includes areas around the Fernando de Noronha Islands, Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago, and the Trindade and Martim Vaz Islands. It is called the Blue Amazon. In 2004, Brazil submitted its claims to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) to extend its maritime continental margin.


Canada is unusual in that its exclusive economic zone, covering , is slightly smaller than its territorial waters.Wildlife Habitat Canada
Canada's Marine Waters: Integrating the Boundaries of Politics and Nature
The latter generally extend only 12 nautical miles from the shore, but also include inland marine waters such as Hudson Bay (about across), the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the internal waters of the Arctic Archipelago.


Chile's EEZ includes areas around the Desventuradas Islands, Easter Island, and the Juan Fernández Islands.


The first figure excludes all disputed waters, while the last figure indicates China's claimed boundaries, and does not take into account adjacent powers' claims.


]] Area: 59,032 km2


The Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus covers more than 70,000 km2 and is divided between 13 exploration blocks. The process of the establishment of Cyprus, Israel and Lebanon Exclusive Economic Zones was held in Nicosia in 2010 with separate meetings between each country. Cyprus and Israel as part of their wider cooperation have agreed to start their gas explorations with a common American company, specifically Noble Energy. Cypriot and Israeli governments are discussing to export their natural gas through the shipping of compressed Natural Gas to Greece and then to the rest of Europe or through a subsea Pipelines starting from Israel and then leading to Greece via Cyprus.


The Kingdom of Denmark includes the constituent country (''selvstyre'') of Greenland and the constituent country (''hjemmestyre'') of the Faroe Islands.


Area: 1,077,231 km2


Due to its numerous overseas departments and territories scattered on all oceans of the planet, France possesses the largest EEZ in the world, covering 11.7 million  km2. The EEZ of France covers approximately 8% of the total surface of all the EEZs of the world, whereas the land area of the French Republic is only 0.45% of the total land area of Earth.



Greece has claimed an EEZ of as per UNCLOS 1982 as well as customary international law. Turkey doesn't recognize a legal continental shelf and EEZ around the Greek islands. As of 2020, Greece has signed EEZ agreements with Italy and Egypt.


India is currently seeking to extend its EEZ to 350 miles.


Indonesia has the 6th largest exclusive economic zone in the world. The total size is . It claims an EEZ of 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its shores. This is due to the 13,466 islands of the Indonesian Archipelago. It has the 2nd largest coastline of 54,720 km (34,000 mi). The five main islands are: Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Sulawesi, and Western New Guinea. There are two major island groups (Nusa Tenggara and the Maluku Islands) and sixty smaller island groups.


In 2010, an agreement was signed with Cyprus concerning the limit of territorial waters between Israel and Cyprus at the maritime halfway point, a clarification essential for safeguarding Israel's rights to oil and underwater gas reservoirs. The agreement was signed in Nicosia by Israeli Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau and the Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou. The two countries agreed to cooperate in the development of any cross border resources discovered, and to negotiate an agreement on dividing joint resources.


Japan has the 8th largest exclusive economic zone of . It claims an EEZ of 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its shores. Japan has disputes over its EEZ boundaries with all its Asian neighbors (China, Russia, South Korea, and Taiwan). The above, and relevant maps at the Sea Around Us Project both indicate Japan's claimed boundaries, and do not take into account the claims of adjacent jurisdications. Japan also refers to various categories of "shipping area" – Smooth Water Area, Coasting Area, Major or Greater Coasting Area, Ocean Going Area – but it is unclear whether these are intended to have any territorial or economic implications.



Mexico's exclusive economic zones comprise a total surface area of 3,144,295 km2, and places Mexico among the countries with the largest areas in the world. This puts Mexico's total territory as 5,153,735 km2.

New Zealand

New Zealand's EEZ covers , which is approximately fifteen times the land area of the country. Sources vary significantly on the size of New Zealand's EEZ; for example, a recent government publication gave the area as roughly 4,300,000 km2.New Zealand Ministry for the Environment (2007)
Improving Regulation of Environmental Effects in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone: Discussion Paper – Introduction
. Published August 2007, Publication number ME824. Accessed 2006-01-07.
These figures are for the EEZ of New Zealand proper, and do not include the EEZs of other territories in the Realm of New Zealand (the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, and the ''Ross Dependency'').

North Korea

The exclusive economic zone of North Korea stretches 200 nautical miles from its basepoints in both the West Sea (Yellow Sea) and the Sea of Japan. The EEZ was declared in 1977 after North Korea had contested the validity of the Northern Limit Lines (NLL) set up after the Korean War as maritime borders. The EEZ has not been codified in law and North Korea has never specified its coordinates, making it difficult to determine its specific scope. In the West Sea, the EEZ remains unspecified in the Korea Bay because China has not determined its own EEZ in the area. The border between the North Korean and South Korean EEZs in the West Sea cannot be determined because of potential overlap and disputes over certain islands. In the Sea of Japan, the North Korean EEZ can be approximated to be trapezoidal-shaped. The border between North Korea and Russia's respective EEZs is the only such border that has been determined in East Asia. Here, the EEZ does not cause many problems, even with regards to South Korea, because the sea is not thought to be rich in resources.


Norway has a large exclusive economic zone of 819,620 km2 around its coast. The country has a fishing zone of 1,878,953 km2, including fishing zones around Svalbard and Jan Mayen. In April 2009, the United Nations Commission for the Limits of the Continental Shelf approved Norway's claim to an additional 235,000 square kilometres of continental shelf. The commission found that Norway and Russia both had valid claims over a portion of shelf in the Barents Sea.


Area: 906,454 km2


The Philippines' EEZ covers .


The Polish EEZ covers the area of within the Baltic Sea.


Portugal has the 20th largest EEZ in the world. Presently, it is divided in three non-contiguous sub-zones: * Continental Portugal 327,667 km2 * Azores 953,633 km2 * Madeira 446,108 km2 * Total : 1,727,408 km2 Portugal submitted a claim to extend its jurisdiction over an additional 2.15 million square kilometres of the adjacent continental shelf in May 2009, resulting in an area with a total of more than 3,877,408 km2. The submission, as well as a detailed map, can be found in the Task Group for the extension of the Continental Shelf website. Spain disputes the EEZ's southern border, maintaining that it should be drawn halfway between Madeira and the Canary Islands. But Portugal exercises sovereignty over the Savage Islands, a small archipelago north of the Canaries, claiming an EEZ border further south. Spain objects, arguing that the Savage Islands do not have a separate continental shelf, citing article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.


Area: 23,627 km2


4th largest * Kaliningrad (Baltic Sea) – 11,634 km2 * Saint Petersburg (Baltic Sea) – 12,759 km2 * Barents Sea – 1,308,140 km2 * Black Sea (without the Crimean EEZ) – 66,854 km2 * Pacific – 3,419,202 km2 * Siberia – 3,277,292 km2 * Total – 8,095,881 km2


Area: 158,861 km2


's exclusive economic zone]] Area: 825,052 km2

South Africa

South Africa's EEZ includes both that next to the African mainland and that around the Prince Edward Islands, totalling 1,535,538 km2. * Mainland – 1,068,659 km2 * Prince Edward islands – 466,879 km2

South Korea

Area: 300,851 (225,214) km2


Area: 1,039,233 km2


United Kingdom

thumb|UK, Ireland, Iceland & Faroes EEZ The United Kingdom has the fifth largest exclusive economic zone of square km. It comprises the EEZs surrounding the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies, and the British Overseas Territories. The figure does not include the EEZ of the ''British Antarctic Territory''. The EEZ associated with the Falkland Islands and South Georgia are disputed by Argentina. The EEZ of the Chagos Archipelago, also known as the British Indian Ocean Territory, is also disputed with Mauritius which considers the archipelago as a part of its territory. A part of the overseas territory of , which together has an EEZ of 1,641,294 square km.

United States

The United States' exclusive economic zone is the second largest in the world, covering 11,351,000 km2. Areas of its EEZ are located in three oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. Note, the totals in the table actually add up to 12,234,403 square km and 4,723,705 square miles.


Vietnam claims an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of with from its shores. Excluding all disputed waters, Vietnam has an undisputed exclusive economic zone of . This figure does not include the claimed EEZ areas of the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands. Vietnam has disputes mainly with the People's Republic of China due to the nine-dash line.

Rankings by area

This list includes dependent territories (including uninhabited territories) within their sovereign states, but does not include various claims on Antarctica. EEZ+TIA is exclusive economic zone (EEZ) plus total internal area (TIA) which includes territorial land and internal waters.

See also

* Air defense identification zone * Baseline * Continental shelf * International waters * ''R v Marshall'' * Special economic zone * Territorial waters



Works cited: * * * *

External links

Interactive map at MarineRegions.org
showing boundaries and disputes

Sea Around Us Project – View the EEZ of all countries
(note that this website does not distinguish between the territorial seas and the EEZs, therefore it tends to overstate the EEZ areas. See

* GIS data

Foreign Military Activities in Asian EEZs: Conflict Ahead?
by Mark J. Valencia (May 2011)

{{Authority control Category:Law of the sea Category:Hydrography Category:Fishing industry Category:Fishing and the environment Category:Fisheries law