Charles Clover, writing in the Transatlantic Edition of Internationale Politik (4 / 2005, Vol 6, p32), reminds us that law, especially international law, is written to address political and social demands at the time it’s written and framed through technological limitations (not many laws governing the territory on Mars… although I think there are some general "for mankind" feel-good "laws" for the moon). His article "Who Owns the Sea?" considers the roots of international laws of the sea, questioning their validity and applicability in modernity. Comparing the causes of the reduction of shared commons on land with the current conditions in fishing and other activity can lead to interesting explorations into a variety of areas, including telecommunications and privacy.
The laws of the sea, based on Grotius’s Mare Liberum, established the ocean as a common. Clover writes "John Selden, an English jurist, asserted in Mare Clausum the right of the crown to claim sovereignty over sea closest to its territory." This was the basis of the three-mile limit, Clover continues, as based by the distance a shore battery could lob a cannon ball. Modern technology, such as radar, sonar, and the Gloria trawl (64m opening), exceeds the limitors of ancient law, stripping resources down to the nub.
As I was reading Clover’s piece, I received an email about the deaths of whales off Gibraltar.
There are 3 more beaked whale deaths in the beach…(last October 2005 one more whale stranded during the passsage of the aircarrier Invincible in his way from the Mediterraneasn to the naval exercises Noble Javalin of the Nato response Force in the Canary Islands)
This was followed by this
We got some information now, the H. M. S. Kent, of the UK Royal Navy, together with the Gibraltar squadron, was dong manoeuvres in the area and carried a mid frequency active sonar (similar to the SQ 53 present in the strandings of Bahamas and Canaries)
There are 4 dead beaked whales by now, searching for a fifth, necropsyes are being done and all indicates the sonar is related to the deaths
The US Navy has dealt with similar issues with proposed sonar systems.
The conflict between man and nature, outside of the global warming debate, will continue to escalate. However, such fights are generally limited to countries with at certain amount of institutional capacity. Somali fish stocks are being plundered by China and other countries without any credible response. As someone pointed out to me a while ago when the Top Cat Marine Security fiasco first appeared, Somalia has tremendous natural resources (beyond energy supplies) that could finance a legitimate government. That particular discussion started from the point of lacking maritime security inhibiting the growth of a legitimate fishing fleet.
Something to think about.