United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was adopted in 1982 and ratified by Canada in 2003.

The legal instrument:

  • Establishes the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which provides the legal basis for coastal States to have complete jurisdiction over the 200 nautical miles adjacent to coastlines, their sedentary fish stocks and all non-living resources to the edge of the continental shelf.
  • Specifies freedom of fishing and navigation on the high seas, while noting a number of key restrictions.
  • Stipulates that coastal fishing States have a duty to cooperate with respect to conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and other fisheries on the high seas.
  • Specifies that flag States have a right to exercise jurisdiction over their vessels anywhere, including the high seas, and that with this right comes a duty to control the activities of vessels flagged by them.