As you can see from pages 180–1 of the Heinemann Atlas 3rd edn, a large
area of the world’s oceans are covered by territorial sea claims. In addition,
many countries also claim a much larger area of sea known as their Exclusive
Economic Zone (EEZ).
An EEZ is designed to protect the economic benefits that a country can gain
from its adjoining oceans, particularly those linked to fishing and mining.
Not every country has a territorial sea claim and/or an EEZ. The size of the
claim also varies between countries – a fact that is revealed on close inspection
of the key on page 180 of the Heinemann Atlas 3rd edn.
Increasingly, Australian authorities have had to deal with illegal fishing
(such as fishing of the Patagonian toothfish) in its EEZ. To protect valuable
and sometimes rare resources, the Federal Government has gone to great lengths
to establish and maintain a Coastwatch surveillance program.
In the case of countries with a long coastline and extensive EEZ, such as Australia,
monitoring an EEZ can be a difficult task. With such a large geographical area
to cover, just observing breaches of the rights granted to Australia by its
EEZ is difficult, let alone carrying out the complicated physical and legal
process of bringing offenders to justice.