Claims to Sea Don't Hold Water; the Whaling Dispute Raises Questions of Law, Reports Julian Drape of AAP

Article excerpt

RECENT clashes between Japanese whalers and environmental activists have resulted in various claims about what the Federal Government should do to patrol aAustralian watersa.

The Opposition, the Greens and conservationists have suggested Japan has inappropriately encroached into Australian waters, whether that's off the coast of Western Australia or in the Southern Ocean. But have they?

The country's aterritorial seaa extends 12 nautical miles from the coastline. The acontiguous zonea, or CZ, extends from 12 to 24 nautical miles out.

Then there's the aexclusive economic zonea, or EEZ, which extends 200 nautical miles from the coast.

aIn a nutshell we can't stop vessels from navigating through the EEZ, the contiguous zone or the territorial sea for that matter,a international law expert Tim Stephens, of Sydney University, said this week.

aEven in the territorial sea, foreign vessels enjoy a right of innocent passage.a

Three protesters boarded the Japanese security ship the Shonan Maru 2, apparently in Australia's contiguous zone, last weekend. …