Fluid Borders

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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27 Responses

  1. Burt Likko says:

    Is there a map or some other visual aid to demonstrate the extent of EEZ claim conflicts?Report

  2. James Hanley says:

    Very interesting.  I was vaguely aware of these issues, but you gave me a lot more context for understanding them.  Russia’s claim of mineral rights in the Arctic Ocean fits into this framework, yes?Report

    • Nob Akimoto in reply to James Hanley says:

      Yes. Essentially the concept of EEZs have helped to parcel up a lot of the Arctic between various states. The “continental shelf” provision in particular has led to what is essentially a mineral grab between Russia, Canada, Denmark and the US.Report

    • Nob Akimoto in reply to James Hanley says:

      The Turbot War between Canada and Spain (The Evans School of Public Affairs has a nice piece on this available at Electronic Hallway) as well as the Cod War are good examples of how the EEZ disputes used to be framed.

      More modern concerns basically seem to be more about mineral rights than fisheries management, but it’s hard to tell which direction things’ll go in as tuna stocks keep depleting.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

      For a fairly good look at how EEZ works for each country, consult wiki which has all the EEZ maps.   But when EEZs overlap, each country has to work out the rest.

      The disputes in the South China Sea are an entirely different problem.   As the map I put up reveals, China’s trying to control far more than its own EEZ territory.   It’s basically laid claim to the whole South China Sea.

      It gets even weirder, as I said in para 1, overlaps have to be worked out between the various countries and there are more contenders than just China in this squabble.   It’s a huge mess and the next Large War is about to begin over these competing claims.Report

      • Nob Akimoto in reply to BlaiseP says:

        Yeah. I definitely think the South China Sea’s territorial claims and disputes, plus the simple mineral wealth there make for a very volatile mixture. Unfortunately there’s only really cursory attention paid to actually resolving these issues.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

          Many eyes are watching this struggle.   Ambrose Bierce said Americans learn their geography from the war reporting.   About the time the Chinese start up their own “Co-Prosperity Sphere”, and it’s coming, the Chinese will find discover their outmoded military is useless.

          Thus we see the Chinese generals and admirals on little diplomacy tours, attempting to reassure folks as to their peaceful intentions. Nobody believes a word of it.


          • Nob Akimoto in reply to BlaiseP says:

            I think the events of 2010, involving the rare earth mineral export ban were a serious eye-opener for many observers on the actual risks posed by Chinese strategic thinking. I’m not inclined to be an alarmist about China’s rise, but there’s a steep learning curve for Chinese thinkers that they’ll have to overcome. The “island chains” aren’t their property, they either need to get used to that idea, or we’re going to have some sort of armed conflict.Report

    • Dan Miller in reply to James Hanley says:

      Check out this story about a Russian submarine planting a flag under the ice at the north pole.  http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2007-08-08-russia-arctic-flag_N.htmReport

  3. Roger says:


    I agree. We need clearly delineated property rights of the seas and the sea floor. I think overfishing and species extinction are serious concerns. How do you suggest we address the issues without threatening force or developing a world governmental body?Report

    • Nob Akimoto in reply to Roger says:

      I think my answer is predicated basically on: “What do you mean by world governmental body”?Report

      • Nob Akimoto in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        In a more basic sense, I think a multilateral treaty framework, combined with new global governance structures like consumer certification systems will be an important step in fisheries management. Consumer awareness of the costs of rampant fisheries exploitation and figuring out a way to make it desirable to prevent this exploitation on a consumption level is a prerequisite to making governments and markets more responsive to the huge potential externalities.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

          Such a treaty is as unrealistic as the Kyoto Treaty, much as I hate saying it.   We will never get the rogue trawler off the water, not while I’m living.   The poor countries have nothing to lose.


          • Matty in reply to BlaiseP says:

            Do you have a prefered solution or are you just pessimistic about the whole thing?Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Matty says:

              Okay, here’s realism.   Power varies as the inverse square of distance to include the power of law.That means the farther afield we do, the less authority we have.   Because we have less authority we can project less power.

              Now it is an unfortunate fact that the things we most despise in others were once part of our own collection of attributes.  All those lovely homes on Nantucket and Cape May were built with whaling and fishing.  We don’t like the rogue trawler but that’s how we fished for a long time.

              What will it take to regain sustainable fisheries?   What would it take for these polluters to cease polluting?   Let’s begin with nomenclature, these rogue trawlers and long line boats are ecological pirates.  They thrive where existing laws aren’t enforced.   But who will enforce an international regulation on the harvest of tuna?

              Haul in a good sized bluefin tuna and before it’s bled out and frozen in the hold, the captain has called it in and it’s already on the equivalent of the Tuna eBay and people are bidding on it.   Soon enough it’s going to be elegantly sliced into toro and chu-toro for the discriminating diners of the world’s sushi bars.

              See, we’re going about this all wrong.   If you want to crack down on theft, go after the fence who buys his wares and charge people with the crime of possessing stolen goods.    All these do-gooders who go after the Japanese whaling boats have missed the point:  while minke whale sushi sells for ten dollars for a slice of meat you can almost see through, don’t expect any changes to the status quo.   We have to attenuate market demand, that’s a problem we can address through land-based law.Report

  4. Kolohe says:

    Good overview.  As a nitpick, the US doesn’t claim anything in the SCS.  (other than our vessels can transit there anytime they want.  China thinks EEZ’s also prohibit military activity but so do a lot of countries.  )

    And while imo, (and the US Navy ‘s) we should ratify UNCLOS – the objections to it being way overblown – as a practical matter, it’s not substantially interfering with our ‘moral authority’ to stand up for EEZ rights.  For one, we buy into most of the existing framework, for two, as the first link shows, there’s lots of people that have excessive claims, and for three, it’s that self-same Navy that’s going to be the ultimate enforcement arm of any coherent regulatory framework anyway.


    • Kolohe in reply to Kolohe says:

      I’m also trying to figure out from the linked map what the heck the PI owns between CNMI/Guam and the FSM.Report

    • Nob Akimoto in reply to Kolohe says:

      Oops. My mistake on the SCS.

      Ultimately on the “moral authority” issue, I think it’s more likely for people to accept the US Navy as a benevolent force rather than a potential 800 pound gorilla if the US is a signatory of UNCLOS. I take your point that the USN is likely to be the guarantor/enforcer of the framework, but it’s much easier to be an enforcer when you’re actually part of the framework.Report