Tuesday, January 14, 2014


There has always been some controversy about the world's ocean resources but the only place they routinely get stressed is in the south China Sea and Far Pacific Ocean, where an extraordinary number of sovereign nations own a bit of beachfront property and are entitled to exclusive economic exploitation of the resources lying directly off their shore. We can discuss claimed waters, baselines, recognized baselines, UNCLOS, etc but the real essence of the problem is that the world isn't flat. It has bumps.

The claims vary according to the mood of whichever power is feeling feisty. Those little islands, rocks and reefs that nobody ever heard of and on which nobody ever lived, are vital in staking a claim to exclusive economic control over even more seawater. The fish don't mind. Here is what the claims look like these days.
There is more than fish out there in the dark offshore. There is oil and there are minerals and all kinds of exciting things.
This is a picture from a little further north. All those lights you see out in the water to the east and west of Korea are fishing fleets who are out there every night fishing with lights to lure the fish in to where they can be caught. When you fly over that area at night from say, Tokyo to Seoul, you fly over boats so clustered together you almost think you could walk from Japan to Korea.

China declares that it is regulating the fishing fleets in order to ensure that the commons are not despoiled by over-predation. That's a mighty generous gesture and so reasonable from most points of view. There are well over a billion Chinese that like a bit of fish now and then so you could say they have a vested interest in preserving the sea-commons.

On the other hand, so to do the various countries that make up the EU and they actually fight over fishing rights with guns and bullets.

My advice to the unfriends of ours who share waterfront with China's sea; you better arm yourselves. I'm hoping that 'non-aligned nations' crap you were peddling a decade or two ago is matched with your very own Juche in so far as defending your fish and your oil. I wouldn't want to be the one that had to explain to the lynch mobs that you were counting on John Kerry and President Obama to look after your vital interests and keep them safe.

Of course there's always the UN if you're feeling lucky.

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