Law and Effect
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
THE GREAT SEAS IN CONTEXT The great seas are gigantic and of incalculable value to mankind and to environmental conditions. The seas contain one-quarter of the world’s oil and gas reserves and rich untapped resources such as nodules of manganese, cobalt, nickel and copper, and other valuable minerals. They are places of marvelous and complex biodiversity. The seas are the home for numerous other valuable resources about which we remain ignorant; we have explored less than 1 per cent of them. The seas are immensely important to the transportation of people and their goods. They provide fisheries and other foods and are a central source of our recreation. They are the major supply of the world’s precipitation and a huge reserve of energy such as through tidal and wave power. Approximately half of the world population lives on or near the seashore with densities as high as 10 000 people per square kilometer (Small and Nicholls 2003). Industrial activity on a large scale exists along the coast. The coastal zones are also a major tourist space. National and international trade centers are located on the coasts. Roughly seventy one per cent (71%) of the Earth‘s surface (~3.61 × 1014 2) is covered by waters. These include oceans, seas and inland waters. m Despite their immense importance, there is an alarming ignorance about the potential of the oceans and the seas, the extent of the threats to them, and the management of them for societal needs as well as for their...