Additional Publication Information
International law generally, and the law of the sea in particular, exert a tremendous influence on Australian interests, not merely in the oceans around the continent, but within the Australian economy generally. Australia asserts its jurisdiction over the largest maritime area in the world, with an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf over 1.5 times the size of mainland Australia, and a search and rescue responsibility covering 10 per cent of the globe. Over 95 per cent by volume of Australian international trade reaches Australia by sea. Over 99 per cent of the data traffic passing along communications links reaches Australia through fibre optic submarine cables. The Australian fishing industry, although small by world standards, generates over $50 billion per annum into the national economy. More fundamentally, over 85 per cent of the Australian population lives within an hour of the coastline, all of which provides a strong domestic security imperative for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and other Government agencies to keep Australia’s maritime areas adequately under surveillance and protected. The law of the sea has a direct impact on ensuring these interests can be protected and the means and mechanisms available to Australia to do so. This paper examines relevant trends in the law of the sea that impact upon Australian interests, and assesses regional law of the sea practice.