IMPLICATIONS OF THE LAW OF THE SEA FOR AFRICAN TERRITORIAL WATERS AND HIGH SEAS: A CASE STUDY OF NIGERIA’S MARINE POLICY 1960-1998
The sea by its very nature is international and has remained an object of intense competition and scramble among maritime nations at different epochs in history. The Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOSIII), in 1982 is not only a comprehensive legal instrument that embodies one of the latest codifications and progressive development of international law, but is also a legal base for the Ocean policies of nation states. This study examines the implications of the law of the sea for African Territorial Waters and High Seas; the aim of the study is to examine why there is no comprehensive
marine policy in Nigeria. Secondly, the study aims to ascertain why current policy strategies, including the national shipping policy, have failed to adequately protect Nigeria’s marine policy interest. The study adopted the Rational Comprehensive Model (RCM) as a theoretical framework. Data were collected and analysed using the qualitative descriptive method. Specifically, data were generated from secondary sources such as books, journals, internet publications etc. The study reveals among other things that: (i) There is institutional inadequacy as Nigeria does not have a central authority that oversees ocean affairs; (ii) There still exists a legislative vacuum as far as maritime laws are concerned; while some existing
maritime legislations are outdated and in conflict with current international practices, there are areas in which laws have not yet been enacted. The study therefore recommends that the Federal Government of Nigeria should create a Ministry of Ocean Affairs, and make a clear statement or declaration on the implementation of an integrated ocean policy in the country; secondly, the Federal Government should establish an inter-ministerial, agency, board or council under the new Minister of Ocean Affairs, to take charge as the a lead marine affairs agency (preferably an enhanced Nigeria Maritime Agency),this body should be responsible for bringing together governmental and non-governmental organizations involved in ocean affaires and to provide necessary leadership and the opportunity for policy prioritization in
1.1 Background of the Study
Legal rules, whether municipal or international, usually grow as a result of political, economic, and geographical circumstances that shape their emergence. This is apparent with the law of the sea which emerged from a laissez-faire regime of freedom, openness and unrestricted use to the present state of an expanded ocean enclosure. The traditional openness and freedom of the high seas survived the early period because it reflected the interests of the dominant maritime powers of the time as it adequately served their domination of navigation and fishing. As ships were relatively smaller and fewer than what is obtainable today, nobody talked about depletion of fish stocks, as ocean resources were generally considered inexhaustible. This traditional hegemony of the world’s ocean and seas by the west European
maritime powers was first challenged by the emergence of the super powers in the 20th century. The super powers came in not only to challenge the European dominance of the seas but were also interested in maximizing the freedom of marine communication. The second challenge came as a result of growing nationalism and demands for economic freedom by the developing states, majority of which had gained independence after the Second World War. Thirdly, the technological breakthrough and increased demand for sea resources created more rounds for conflicts on the seas. (Tagow, 2010).
The threat of pollution from supertankers after the Suez coastal states of tightly monitor vessels passing near their coasts, the threat of over-fishing and the control over continental shelf resources intensified and increased the possibilities of conflicts as a result or renewed interest of states in the sea.
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