Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Deep waters

India's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), in the waters around its territories, covers almost two-thirds of the country's land area. Although various maritime nations had drawn up bilateral or multilateral treaties about how they would share the resources along their coast, all of those were scrapped when the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was concluded in 1982. 

It was probably the adoption of UNCLOS which prompted the Government of India to think about having a dedicated organization to figure out how to reap the benefits of the natural resources available within its EEZ. Marine engineering only scratches the surface of the oceans, and hence in 1993 was born the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), based in Chennai, with its facilities at Pallikaranai. The NIOT carries out programmes for observation of the ocean as well as for the deployment of vessels to carry out deep-sea surveys in the EEZ. 

Since its founding, the NIOT has surveyed over 13,500 sqkm of the EEZ. The whole extent of India's EEZ is about 2,300,000 sqkm (If you think that's a lot, consider Japan's: over 4,479,000 sqkm, or New Zealand's, at about 4,300,000 sqkm). With so much of available area left to cover, the NIOT certainly has its work cut out over the next century or so!

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