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May 18, 1975
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Apipmmt Approved For Release 2001/08/07 : C ;The. New York Times Magazine/May 18, 1975 82S00697R000300100001-5 A tidal wave of troubles i?` at hand over territorial rights, fisheries, treasures on the bottom and the misuse of the oceans as the greatest dump. By Richard A. Frank " GENEVA. It is the year 2000. The coastal pow- ers have extended their sovereignty to the centers of the oceans. Cargo and military vessels must- pay tribute as they pass from one sovereignty zone to another or as they transit straits through which passage once was free. Conflict between the "have" and "have-not" countries, as governments jostle over the resources of the seabed, keeps the world in ,a state of tension. Fish are a rarity; the few species that survive taste rather odd, for they inhabit an element befouled by enormous amounts of pollu- tion. In most coastal areas, swimming in the sea is forbidden by law. The contamination has killed most of the sea's phytoplankton, the primary source of the earth's oxygen. The environment needed to sustain life on earth is wearing away. This picture of the woeld a quarter-century from no., may seem unduly dire, yet it is only a projec- tion of current trends. Four major controversies? over territorial seas and strategic straits, over the fish in the oceans, over the oil and mineral riches of the ? seabed and over marine pollution?have merged into the one overwhelming problem of ' establishing new regulations for the watery two- thirds of the earth. Arai while? all governments acknowledge that the peace of the world and man- kind's very future are at stake, the powerful com- peting interests at work in each area of controversy have thrown the technicalities of the problem into the swirl of a multinational political contest. Today, there are no effective regulations for conservation of fisheries, or against unilat- eral extension of national controls seaward, or -against use of the oceans as the world's great garbage dump. There is only a record of four in- . conclusive attempts since 1958 to, organize for orderly use and exploitation of dm seas. The last attempt, the international Conference on the Law' Of the Sea in Geneva, has just concluded with no agreement by the delegations on the major issues? only with a draft text prepared by the committee chairmen that could serve as the basis for further negotiation. About the only clear decision was to convene yet another conference ? in New' York, next March. And it is by no means certain that national ap- petites and the pressures of technological advance can be kept hi check for another year. If they can't, the last restraints may he abandoned, and with them any chance of an international solution averting the kind of situation described above. It is only in the past two decades that the 17th- century concept of the sea as an unchangeable in- finitude of freedom, purity and fish resources has had to be discarded as obsolete, to the psychologi- cal discomfort of a race of man divested of its last frontier. As various coastal nations asserted sov- ereignty and economic hegemony over different -two conferences, in 1958 and 1960, to reconcile these claims. The delegates wrote three treaties permitting coastal states to extend sovereignty sea- ward and to adopt fish conservation measures over adjacent waters (without stipulating the outer limits in either case), and giving those states sole rights over resources on or below the seabed to a depth of 200 meters?or to whatever depth permit- ted exploitation. A fourth treaty reasserted freedom of navigation, overflight, fishing and placement of submarine cables and pipelines on the "high seas." The treaties, in short, codified what had been ac- cepted and left unsettled what had not, including- where the high seas began, and none of it was ? enough to cope with the conflict that ,the tech- nological advances of the nineteen-sixties brought in their wake. Fishing metamorphosed from the cockleshell boats of yesteryear to factory ships harvesting fish stocks by sonar and helicopter. Oil was discovered in seabed areas beyond 200 meters --in-depth, and new machinery was built to tap it. So was equipment to retrieve the nodules?lumps varying in size from golf balls to footballs?that are scattered over the ocean bottom and contain enough copper, nickel, manganese and cobalt to supply the earth's needs for generations. The effort to write a modern law of the sea before competition burst out of control became a race ,against time. In 1970, proclaiming ocean areas beyond terri- torial-sea limits the "common heritage" of mankind, rthe U. N. General Assembly called for another con- ference, this time to produce a comprehensive treaty settling all the issues that had been skirted before, and that had arisen in the interim as a result of new technological progress. The complexity Of the problems overwhelmed the 2,000 delegates of 148 governments who met for 10 weeks in the sum- mer of 1974 in Caracas, Venezuela. The same proved true of the eight-week conference that ended a week ago in Geneva. The primary disputes re- main. What are these issues, and why are they so difficult to iesolve? -TERRITORIAL SEAS AND STRAITS The world of the 17th century was steeped in the vision of the inviolate ocean, which "can be neither seized nor enclosed," in the words of Hugo Grotius, ? the Dutch expositor of the principle of freedom of the seas, for it "rather possesses the earth than is possessed by it." But the privateering off the coast of the young American republic became a nuisance, and President Thomas Jefferson made the first significant dent on free navigation by extending United States jurisdiction out to sea 3 miles, the farthest distance a cannonball could travel. Other maritime nations followed suit. In clinging in recent times to the 3-Mile limit as the international norm, in spite of the trend of' ter many coastalcountries to push theirterritorial sea, distances out to sea, the United Nations sponsored clMs mys otpo leit States Richard A. FranAPPIVVACVPIIRRI9Restgal/08/07 it itOtOdA Asecountes as Main and for Law and Social Policy, a Washington-based Japan have been concerned with something far public-interest law firm. 1 II 5 Approved For Release 2001/08/07 : CIA-RDP82S00697R000300100001-5 removed from obsolete criteria of coastal gunnery. If 12 miles, the widely favored compromise, became international law, more than 100 straits between 6 and 24 miles in width would fall within the sovereign jurisdiction of the adjacent coastal states. Under the 1958 treaty, vessels of other countries must be granted "innocent passage" through terri- torial seas?passage that is not "prejudicial to the peace, good order, or security of the coastal state." But what that means is in dispute; some countries hold that passage by a military vessel or any sub- merged vessel is, per se, not innocent. The change would mean, for example, that the United States Sixth Fleet, which has unencumbered passage from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean through the Straits of Gibraltar, would retain only the right of "innocent" transit as interpreted by Britain, Morocco and Spain. This inhibition on military mobility might act as a restraint on new adven- tures like Vietnam, but few naval powers are likely to take that view of the problem. The United States and other maritime powers insist on an explicit guarantee of unimpeded transit --as opposed to "innocent passage"?through and over all important straits if 12 miles were ac- cepted as the new international standard. An added proviso is that commercial ships and planeS transiting or overflying the straits be regulated by international traffic controls. The maritime powers contend-that any additional restrictions imposed by the straits states would unduly hamper commercial shipping and would tend to raise consumer prices by increasing transport costs. . The issue has long been deadlocked. The straits states have wanted to adopt their own traffic and other regulations and to enforce them unilaterally. They have also been demanding compensation for any damage, such as the ruin of the shorelines caused. by a recent oil spill froni a Japanese supertanker in the Strait of Malacca. But they came under intense pres- sure from the maritime pow- ers at Geneva, and they may be forced to settle for much less than they want?perhaps for limited enforcement rights, and for compensation in case of damage involving violation of transit rules. OIL AND THE ECONOMIC ZONE In 1967, dismayed by the way things were moving, Mal- ta's Ambassador to the United, Nations, Arvid Pardo, made a landmark speech before the General Assembly. Pardo, one of the world's experts on the subject, called for creation of an international regime to govern the exploitation ?of ocean resources beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. He argued that such wealth should be shared by all, with most of it going to those that have least, the develop- ing countries. The dream he evoked provided the inspira7 tion for the LaW of the Sea Conference?and collided al- most at once with the reality of national power and what was conceived as national self-interest. Of the 15-billion barrels of production?a technique ap- plied after President Truman proclaimed exclusive national control over the resources of the continental shelf (the sea- bed area adjacent to the coast) and other coun- tries followed the American example. By 1980, offshore production will account for 30 to 40 per cent of the total. According to a rather op- timistic United Nations study, .the seabed contains an equiv- alent, of 2,722 billion barrels of oil, enough to satisfy world consumption at present levels for 140 years. At the same time, the National Petroleum Council estimates that between 30 and 45 per cent of the oil in the seabed lies beyond the continental shelves, at depths greater than 200 meters. And the technology is ready for Undersea oil production at depths of thousands of feet. Most of the 120 coastal states have insisted on uni- lateral control over oil and mineral resources well beyond the limits of present national jurisdiction ? over what is known as the "continental margin," consisting of an un- dersea continental shelf and a further decline, the whole extending as far as 400 miles from land before the deep Ocean bottom is reached. The United States has proposed a way of bridging the gap between that position and the Pardo dream. The coastal states would retain national jurisdiction to a depth of 200 meters, and the seabed from there to the outer edge of the continental margin would be a "trusteeship area" administer- ed by the coastal state on be- half of the international' com- munity, with royalties paid to .an international fund. The ocean floor beyond that would be an international area ad- 'ministered by a new inter- national agency. The compromise was sen- sible but doomed?because it was the suggestion of the paradigm of the developed world, and because it envi- sioned a new form of interna- tional sharing. The death knell came when the Middle East oil-producers' cartel embar- goed exports in 1973. Con- suming countries with coast- lines promptly lost all interest in sharing ownership of any area potentially containing oil or gas reserves. They leaned instead to a plan for extend- ing national jurisdiction over both living and nonliving re- sources to, say, 50 to 200 miles from the coast. - The law of the sea confer- ence has, in effect, agreed territorial sea and a 200-mile economic zone?if and when there is agreement on the rights and obligations of the coastal states in those areas. The essential elements of the proposed treaty thus remain unresolved. Should such a treaty, pro- viding for a 200-mile econ- omic zone, emerge from next year's conference, it will mean that countries already benefiting from large produc- tive coastal areas will get richer, and the disparity be- tween them and the land- locked and otherwise geo- graphically disadvantaged will widen. And a 200-mile economic zone will mean the nationalization, in effect, of one-third of the oceans. That will pose some knotty ques- tions. For example, if Saare- maa, Fyn, Masbate, Unimak, Iturup and the other 500,000 or so subcontinental land masses called islands are en- titled to a 200-mile economic zone, some very small rocks wlll each end up with more than 125,000 square miles of sea and seabed. Indeed, Bri- tain has taken possession of a tiny dot in the Atlantic called Rockhall, presumably so that it can claim jurisdic- tion over a 200-mile zone around the island. FRUITS DE LA VIER The most immediate conflict of interests inherent in the idea of a 200-mile economic zone is over fishing rights, involving a yield of 75 million tons of seafood a year. Going beyond the language of the 1958-60 treaties, which permit coastal conservation schemes, most coastal countries have asserted exclusive jurisdic- tion over fishing 12 miles out to sea. Long-distance fish- ing countries like the United States, the Soviet Union and Japan have refused to recog- nize, broader claims, such as those of Chile, Ecuador and Peru, which have declared a 200 - mile fishing - jurisdiction zone amounting, in effect, to a territorial sea. The countries asserting those claims have resorted to armed force against fishing vessels, as in, the "cod war" between Ice- land and England, the "lobster war" between Brazil and France and the "tuna war" be- tween Ecuador and the United States. Other coastal countries have concluded bilateral agree- ments, collecting license fees from foreign fishermen and placing limitations on catch, gear and seasons. The argument on this issue centers on the insistence- of oil produced each yAisprberdd For Relea8e 2001 /08/01t1:41110-RDP8280069t ROD0300400001sZclakning extensive fishing jurisdiction that they -one' comes from offshore, vention establiahing a 12-mile Ifiktftww, Approved For Release 2001/08/07 : CIA-RDP82S00697R000300100001-5 will not relinquish control. The 200-mile economic zone, they say, must encompass the - fish. This presents a dilemma for the United?States. The Ameri- can fishermen who harvest cod, halibut and other species off the United States coasts account for more than 80 per cent of the nation's catch; for them, extending jurisdic- tion would protect their grounds from the more effi- cient and rapacious Soviet, Norwegian and Japanese fleets. But the American fleets that seek shrimp off Brazil and Mexico and tuna off Peru and Ecuador would pay dearly for international codification of those countries' jurisdic- tional controls. The United States, therefore, favors a species approach. Coastal states would be given prefer- ential and - administrative rights over all coastal fish and anadromoue species (which spawn in rivers but otherwise live in the sea), with the understanding that other states, especially those that traditionally fished the resource, would be given ac- cess if the species were not fully utilized by the coastal state up to the allowable catch. Migratory species would he regulated in part by a multilateral organization, over which the United States could exert some control. iMany of the coastal states remain adamant in their insist- ence on virtually complete jurisdiction over both coastal and migratory species in their 200-mile zones. The treaty language they are willing to adopt would give only the vaguest rights to fishermen of other nations. In any event, the negotiation on a compre- hensive fisheries agreement has focused, just as in the present bilateral accords, On division of resources rather than on prudent management aimed at maximizing returns and alleviating the world food shortage. This approach has resulted thus far in overfishing and biological and economic waste, and shifting from open access to national control is not likely to promote gi eate rationality. THE DEEP SEABED What the origin is of the nodules found plentifully over thousands of square miles of ocean bottom, usually far from land, scientists are not sure; what the exploitation of this mineral-rich resource could mean in economic terms has nations embroiled in produces most of its copper, it imports almost all of its manganese, cobalt and nickel, and access to the deep-sea nodules with their store of all four minerals would bring sizable benefits. Several American companies and oth- ers in West Germany, Japan, Britain, France, Belgium and Canada have been fashioning the necessary technology. Within three years or so, such companies as Howard Hughes's Summa Corporation, Kennecott Copper and Ten- neco's Deepsea Ventures will be -capable of retrieving the nodules-from the ocean floor, 15,000 feet-down, by vacuum _cleanerlike_suction._ The American companies want to 'proceed quickly, -so as not to. lose their technologi- cal ? lead.eAt the, same time, nodule mining promises to be an expensive and specula- eivelausiness,_ with an entry fee:. of - $250-million or _so, and some companies are hesi- tant to begin?thus disclosing the location of the particular- ly rich sites?without assur- ances that competitors could not interlope. At their urging in each Congress since 1971; Senator -Lee Metcalfe Demo:: crat of: Montana, has-intro- duced. legislation under which the United States -would ? license- the mining of sites on the high seas and guaran- tee investments. The bill has not moved, so Deepeea Ven- tures-: 'notified Secretary of State--Henry Kissinger late last year of its claim of exclu- sive mieing Tights over a-60,- 000-square-kilometer area- in the Pacific and petitioned for diplomatic protection. The Sec- retarye replied that -he Was -not -a registrar of - _ claims -- In fact, the United States rias agreed _in principle.: to transfer some control ever mining operations to - a new eintern,ationsd seabed anthori- -ty rBufe.4t.has been at loggerheads with other -gov- ernments.- The developing countries envision a new-'eco- nomic- order :under which they 'Would -receive benefits from the harnessing -of the earth's resources. They have ?demanded that the authority be an "enterprise," iehich would itself engage in mining, and in--which, as members, ? they would have proprietary interest and control. The United States and others with advanced mining technology have insisted that the author- 1W merely license and regu- late private companies, with no limits on production, and with royalties to be shared land-based producers like Zaire, Chile, Canada and the Soviet eUnion are afraid that nodule exploitation would de- crease 'demand for their out- put and lower its value, and some of them have tried every tactic-of delay. _ The discord surrounding the -issue was given an unexpect- ed twist by - :the report that a strange pair of heavily equipped :vessels built .aby Howard- Hughes ?ostensibly for experimental nodule min- ing,:in apparent obliviousness to international negotiation ? - ? _and domestic -legislation?had actually been financed by the Central Intelligence Agency, at more than $350-million, for a toprsecret effort to salvage a sunken Soviet submarine. Whether the salvage vessel, Glomar-Explorer, its hulk- ing barge return to waters- off Hawaii to complete their partially-successful operation of last summer, as the C.I.A._ has proposed, or will now be .erejiggered"- for nodule. hunting, as one American in- telligence official is reported to have put it, the episode bemused the conference and touched on. the side issue of ? espionage under. cover_ of scientific research. " - These differences and suspia cionseeeide,--th-e gevenarriente are being -asked to ,,ve birth to a unique internaticaral .or- ganization with several inter- n-al organs, a charter of more- thea 100 articles and a variety of economic and environmen- tal regulations.- The skeptics believe it cannot be done, and the results of the Geneva session suggest they are right. There is still no agreement ori 'what the basic attributes of the organization should-bee -and-the- developing-, countries have_ turned down an .Ameri- can -compromise proposal un- der which part of the eocean would be mined by companies and part would be reserved foe mining by the internation- al enterprise,:with technical- and financial assistance from the developed world. The pro- posal may even prove to be unacceptable to :a reformist Congress in Washington since the United States min -leg companies are likely to be offered tax- benefits as a -quid pro quo for giving up some of the mining sites. .14ABINE POLLUTXON - The ocean ha i always had a miraculous capacity to ab- sorb, digest and degrade con- taminants, but many scientists f th th i potential y exp osive dispute. ear at e Imt to ti,,t While the United StaAPPR purposes. A itkdif6i3ialsePtH97070 7 dafatiftDR8 2 S 60697 FINK133 0 l the same time, reached. According to a 1974 7 report by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric - Administration, the waste dumped by New York and other East Coast cities has combined with tank- er discharges to form a con- stant sludge of oil and pla-S- tics 1 million square miles out 'into the Atlantic and -down to the Caribbean: as far as Yucatan. -Thor' Heyerdahl,- _crossing the' Atlantic in_his papyrus reed raft, Ra, found lumps' of solidified oil and trash' floating literally shore to shore. Beachesam the west coast of Africa are a mixture of sand and oil. The Mediter- ranean is almost a dead sea. The Audubon Society reports an increasing number of "aquatic anomalies" ? sea- birds along the coast flying erratically as if drunk or diz- zy, before plunging helpleesly into the sea, hundreds of poi- soned sea lions crawling up the California beaches and traveling a mile inland before dying. Environmental conventions of the past decade have suf- fered from low standards and ineffective enforcement. Nothing better came out of Geneva, and there is little prospect of any improvement at the next conference. lveast countries refuse to be made financially liable for damage by municipal sewage, industrial wastes or any other type of pollution. In fact, the bloc of developing coun- tries, arguing that the indus- trialized countries have be- come industrialized by pollut- ing the sea, contend that it is now the developing coun- tries' turn. They want a more lenient standard applied to the "third world," permitting its members to pollute to achieve development. There is little chance of the nations agreeing on any effective con- trol of pollution from land. That leaves pollution by vessels at sea, principally in the form of oil spills. As recently as 1948, no cargo ship weighed more than 26,000 dead weight tons. By 1973, there were more than 400 oil tankers of 200,000 or more tons, two of them of 447,000 tons and as long as five football fields. They are built with skin-thin steel hulls and without safety stand- ards common to other types of ship. Noel Mostert, in his book "Supership," finds their design features "ludicrous." Many of them are subject only to standards -and en- forcement of the states where -they are registered, and "flag 1)100i _8ke Panama and Liberia provide rock-bottom Approved For Release 2001/08/07 : CIA-RDP82S00697R000300100001-5 ) V ? The' coastal nations are on the verge of claiming "economic zones" for themselves 200 miles out to sea. But what happens when a country claims a tiny island with a 200-mile zone of its own, cutting' across .someone else's zone? And what about other nations that have been harvesting the resources in those areas the map on facing have made some progress, bat not enough. as part of the high seas? The problem, illustrated here symbolically in an area circled on page, is one of a 'number that are rife with potential conflict. standards and little if any enforcement. The maritime countries seem willing to re- quire compliance with inter- nationally accepted standards, but these would be ' promul- gated under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Mari- time Consultative Organiza- tion, a U.N. specialized agen- cy that is dominated by the shipping industry and that has always adopted the lowest common denominator. With understandably little faith in international action, Canada sent shocks through the maritime and oil indus- tries in 1970 by declaring. pollution jurisdiction out to 100 miles, and some govern- ments want that approach. adopted generally. The United States, unwilling to go that far, has proposed that states establish and enforce stand- ards for vessels using their ports. The future looks ominous. The oceans will see more tank- er_ traffic, deeper oil rigs and pipelines and huge under- sea oil storage tanks. As pop- ulation and living standards increase, se will waste, in- cluding radioactive wastes in concrete drums that may not remain leakproof forever. The dark "plumes" of red clay discard from deepsea mining form over large areas of the ocean surface and take five years to filter down just through 100 yards of the eu- photic zone?the top layer of water, with enough sunlight in it to sustain most of the life in the ?ocean?and no one is sure of the consequences. Some nuclear plants will be sited at sea. Their proponents claim that the possibility of leakage is remote. But what if the one-in-a-million leak is plutonium? With a horrify- ing half-life of 25,000 years, plutonium is so cancer-pro- ducing that a concentration the size of a meatball could destroy life on earth. Even without such ac- cidents, failure to adopt a comprehensive and effective environmental protection sys- tem. will lead to pollution of the oceans in the fullest sense. "If the oceans become pollut- ed," says John Knauss, Ma- rine Affairs. Provost at the University of Rhode Island, "they will probably remain polluted on any time scale meaningful to man." Jacques Piccard, the Swiss oceanog- rapher, warns that if the momentum does not change, life in the seas will be extin- guished within two or three decades. ankind has not succeeded at such tasks as urban planning, dis- armament and making the world's food supply meet demand; perhaps it is failing now at the task of preserving the ocean for free communica- tions and sustenance of life. Both the Caracas and Gen- eva conferences oriented their efforts toward allocating re- sources among countries and protecting military rights rath- er than maximizing ocean benefits for mankind at large. The attempts at allocation Most countries will near consider a new wave of ura lateral extensions of territorial seas. Many may extend fist- ing rights 200. miles out fe sea. Some may claim jurisdk- tion over the seabed resources to the end of the continental margin. In the United Statea some form of legislation estala lishing 200 miles of fishirg jurisdiction will probably 1st adopted, and bills for Federal licensing of deep-sea minirg and for a 200-mile pollutikn control zone will also be de- bated. The unhappy choice is thus between "going unilat- eral"?a course leading to dis- putes that may or may rat yield to bilateral or regiong solutions?and waiting for yet another international confer-. ence in 1976 in the hope that somehow, despite the pow record of the past two dee. ades, something happens to make the delegates write a sensible and effective law at the sea. IN Approved For Release 2001/08/07 : CIA-RDP82S00697R000300100001-5 8