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An exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is a seazone prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea over which a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind. It stretches from the baseline out to 200 nautical miles from its coast. In colloquial usage, the term may include the territorial sea and even the continental shelf beyond the 200-mile limit.
Generally, a state's EEZ extends to a distance of 200 nautical miles (370 km) out from its coastal baseline. The exception to this rule occurs when EEZs would overlap; that is, state coastal baselines are less than 400 nautical miles (740 km) apart. When an overlap occurs, it is up to the states to delineate the actual maritime boundary. 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 200 nautical miles (370.4 km) from the baseline. The exclusive economic zone stretches much further into sea than the territorial waters, which end at 12 NM (22 km) from the coastal baseline (if following the rules set out in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea). Thus, the EEZ includes the contiguous zone. States also have rights to the seabed of what is called the continental shelf up to 350 nautical miles (648 km) from the coastal baseline, beyond the EEZ, but such areas are not part of their EEZ. 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 EEZ.
The idea of allotting nations EEZs to give better control of maritime affairs outside territorial limits gained acceptance in the late 20th century.
Initially, a country's sovereign territorial waters extended 3 nautical miles or 6 km (range of cannon shot) beyond the shore. In modern times, a country's sovereign territorial waters extend to 12 nautical miles (~22 km) beyond the shore. One of the first assertions of exclusive jurisdiction beyond the traditional territorial seas was made by the United States of America in the Truman Proclamation of September 28, 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 Oficial. 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 as:
Part V, Article 55 of the Convention states:
The exact extent of exclusive economic zones is a common source of conflicts between states over marine waters.
Regions where a permanent ice shelf extends beyond the coastline are also a source of potential dispute.
Fisheries management, usually adhering to guidelines set by the 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.
The area is 1,159,063 km2.
Australia has the third largest exclusive economic zone, behind the United States and France, but ahead of Russia, with the total area actually exceeding that of its land territory. Per the UN convention, Australia's EEZ generally extends 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coastline of Australia and its external territories, except where a maritime delimitation agreement exists with another state.
The United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf 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, 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 exclusive economic zone covers 3,660,995 km2.
In 2004, the country 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 2,755,564 km2, is slightly smaller than its territorial waters. The latter generally extend only 12 nautical miles from the shore, but also include inland marine waters such as Hudson Bay (about 300 nautical miles (560 km; 350 mi) 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.
There is a dispute with Peru over the extension of Chile's EEZ: Chilean–Peruvian maritime dispute
The Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus covers more than 70,000km2 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 autonomous state of Greenland and the autonomous province of Faroe Islands. The EEZs of the latter two do not form part of the EEZ of the European Union.
Due to its numerous Overseas departments and territories scattered on all oceans of the planet, France possesses the second-largest EEZ in the world, covering 11,035,000 km2 (4,260,000 mi2), just behind the EEZ of the United States (11,351,000 km2 / 4,383,000 mi2), but ahead of the EEZ of Australia (8,148,250 km2 / 4,111,312 mi2).
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 the Earth.
Note, the EEZ (and territorial seas) column only adds up to 10,155,838 square km. All but the two smallest (Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy) components of France's EEZ/territorial seas match those at http://www.seaaroundus.org/eez/, which would be a better reference than the reference given—which only provides EEZ sizes for Australia.
Greece has claimed an exclusive economic zone, as it is entitled to do so, as per UNCLOS 1982 as well as customary international law.
According to published maps, the Israeli government has recognized the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of Greece and Cyprus. They describe the course of the gas pipeline which will transfer gas produced by American Νoble Εnergy Ltd. from the Leviathan reservoir to Europe, through an undersea pipeline crossing Greece. The gas pipeline should traverse the sea area, which according to international law, is part of the Greek EEZ. By this proposal, Israel recognizes the Greek EEZ in the area and offers an advantage that Greece can use during negotiation procedures to support its claims on the area. In practice, this cooperation will set up a powerful energy coalition between Greece, Cyprus and Israel. The mining and operating part will be undertaken by an American company. "The substance of the issue is that in an effort to protect and secure vital Israeli interests in the Mediterranean Sea, Israel has been left with no choice other than to officially delimit its maritime borders".
In 2010, an EEZ was set within the territorial waters between Israel and Cyprus at the maritime half way 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 disputes over its EEZ boundaries with all its Asian neighbors (Russia, Republic of Korea, PRC and ROC). The above, and relevant maps at the Sea Around Us Project both indicate Japan's claimed boundaries, and do not take into account neighboring powers' claims.
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.
New Zealand's EEZ covers 4,083,744 km2, 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. 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 (Tokelau, Niue, the Cook Islands and the Ross Dependency).
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 . The fact that the European Union shares its economic zones was a big reason why Norway did not enter the EU as a member.
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.
Philippines' EEZ covers 2,265,684 (135,783) km2
The Polish EEZ covers the area of 30,533 km2 within the Baltic Sea.
Portugal submitted a claim to extend its jurisdiction over additional 2.15 million square kilometers of the neighboring continental shelf in May 2009,Task Group for the extension of the Continental Shelf website.
Portugal has the 10th largest EEZ in the world.
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.
South Africa's EEZ includes both that next to the African mainland and that around the Prince Edward Islands, totalling 1 535 538 km2.
Area: 300,851 (225,214) km2
The United Kingdom's exclusive economic zone is the fifth largest in the world at 6,805,586 square km. It comprises the exclusive economic zones surrounding the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies, and the British Overseas Territories. The figure does not include the EEZ of the British Antarctic Territory.
†Part of the overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, which together has an EEZ of 1,641,294 square km.
Only the United Kingdom (including Rockall) and Gibraltar are part of the EU. The Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the remaining overseas territories (that is, all except Gibraltar) are not part of the EU. The United Kingdom has not as yet claimed its rights with regards to Gibraltar or the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus.
The United States' exclusive economic zone is the largest in the world, covering 11,351,000 km2. Areas of its EEZ are located in three oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea.
The sizes of the components of the US EEZ/territorial seas are (in decreasing size):
Total: 12,234,403 km2 (4,723,729 sq mi)
This list includes dependent territories within their sovereign states (including uninhabited territories), but does not include claims on Antarctica. EEZ+TIA is exclusive economic zone (EEZ) plus total internal area (TIA).
Île Amsterdam, France, Réunion, Adélie Land, Kerguelen Islands