The National Sea Grant Law Center


  • Presidential Proclamation on U.S. Policy on Marine Research in the EEZ

  • October 8th, 2020 — by Philip Lott — Category: Miscellaneous

  • On September 9, 2020, President Trump signed Presidential Proclamation 10071 revising the United States’ Marine Scientific Research policy. The proclamation revises the policy with respect to the United States (US) exercising its right to regulate, authorize, and conduct marine scientific research within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Previously, the United States had declined to exercise jurisdiction over marine research in the EEZ. The proclamation now aligns the US with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

    Adopted in 1982, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) states that a coastal State has the jurisdictional right to explore and use marine resources in a zone extending 200 nautical miles off its respective coast. This zone is known as the Exclusive Economic Zone. In 1983, President Reagan claimed jurisdiction over the EEZ of the United States through an Executive Order. Although international law allows coastal states to exercise jurisdiction over marine scientific research in their respective EEZs, President Reagan noted that the United States had decided not to exercise this power in order to encourage such research. In 1995, President Clinton issued a Presidential Decision Directive clarifying that US policy would be protecting and monitoring the ocean and coastal environment and conserving living marine resources in an open and collaborative environment, as these promote economic and national security interests.

    Since taking office, President Trump has issued Executive Orders and memorandums signaling a move toward exercising jurisdiction over the marine research in the United States EEZ. Through an Executive Order in 2018, President Trump reaffirmed the United States’ policy that it would continue to promote lawful use of the ocean by agencies, including the Armed Forces, and that the United States would continue to exercise its rights and jurisdiction and perform duties in accordance with applicable international law. Then, in 2019, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum supporting the importance of understanding the United States’ ocean systems and natural resources to our security, economic, and environmental interests. The Presidential Memorandum stated that exercising the United States’ jurisdiction over marine scientific research in its EEZ and on its continental shelf would result in greater access to data collected during research and would increase maritime domain awareness.

    The President’s recent signing of the proclamation revised US policy by indicating that “[t]he United States will exercise its right to regulate, authorize, and conduct marine scientific research, with a specific requirement to authorize, in advance, all instances of foreign marine scientific research, in the United States EEZ and on its continental shelf to the extent permitted under international law.” The policy also provides that the Secretary of State is responsible for implementing the proclamation in consultation with the relevant executive departments and agencies, the Ocean Policy Committee and, when appropriate, the Intelligence Community. The entire Presidential Proclamation can be viewed here.

  • Philip Lott
    NSGLC Research Associate

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