EEZs in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans

India has the 18th-largest exclusive economic zone (EEZ) with a total size of 2,305,143 km2 (890,021 sq mi).[1] It includes the Lakshadweep island group in the Laccadive Sea off the southwestern coast of India[2] and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.[3] India's EEZ is bordered to the west by Pakistan, to the south by the Maldives and Sri Lanka and to the east by Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Based on new scientific data, India has petitioned United Nations to extend its EEZ from 200 Nautical miles to 500 miles.[4]

Legal framework

India legally defined the concept of EEZ in the "Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and Other Maritime Zones Act, 1976". In June 1997, India also ratified UNCLOS. India also enacted the "Maritime Zones of India (Regulation of fishing by foreign vessels) Act, 1981" prohibiting fishing by foreign vessel within Indian EEZ without a license. Additionally, India has also enacted laws regulation the fishing and fisheries by Indian fishing vessels operating in the EEZ.[5]

Importance of EEZ

See also: Coastal India, Maritime Silk Route, History of Indian influence on Southeast Asia, Greater India, and Indianisation

Greater India: Conceptually related to EEZ, the historic Indian cultural influence expanded across Southeast Asia through numerous Indianized Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms along the Maritime Silk Route, such as in Indonesia and Malaysia (Srivijaya, Majapahit, Kalingga, Kutai, Singhasari, Tarumanagara, Pan Pan, Gangga Negara and Langkasuka), Indochina (Champa, Funan, and Chenla), Thailand (Dvaravati), and Myanmar (Pagan).

An EEZ provides a nation greater access to oil, natural gas, minerals, commercial fishing and other marine resources, freedom of navigation, international trade, national security, and strategic leverage over other nations.[4][5] With 7,500 km coastline and an EEZ of over 2.3 million km2, India has exclusive control over the resources in its EEZ including navigation of seafaring trade and transport vessels in this area.[5] As per 2014 study, India exploits only 3.2 million tonnes per year marine fishery resources out of potential 3.92 million tonne in its coastal areas.[5]

Piracy, poaching or illegal fishing by foreign vessels, freedom of navigation, transgression of foreign vessels into Indian EEZ, and conflicting claims are major issues in EEZ. Piracy in the Strait of Malacca is a major concern for all the nations. Studies have shown decline in fishing stocks and destruction of several marine ecological areas in Indian EEZ due to organized illegal poaching and fishing resulting in depletion of many endangered and threatened species. Freedom of the navigation has become a cause of concern due to piracy. National security is also threatened by actions of China around Indian EEZ. Conflicting claims over EEZ by nations leads to disputes, such as India-Pakistan Sir Creek dispute. In the past, UNCLOS has granted several contradicting claims while increasing the EEZ based on the evidence related to the length of continental shelf. These UNCLOS contradictions have resulted into overlapping EEZ claims by several nations competing for the resources in the expanded EEZ.[5]

The Indian Coast Guard near the shore and the Indian Military's integrated Andaman and Nicobar Command off-shore play the important role in protecting India's EEZ.

India's existing EEZ area

EEZ Area (km2 / mi2)
Mainland India and Lakshadweep 1,641,514 square kilometres (633,792 sq mi)
Andaman and Nicobar Islands 663,629 square kilometres (256,229 sq mi)
Total 2,305,143 square kilometres (890,021 sq mi)

India's increased EEZ claim area

In 2010, based on the new 6,000 pages sedimentary and scientific evidence, India petitioned United Nations for increasing Indian EEZ from 200 nautical miles to 350 nautical miles. Extension of EEZ from 200 to 350 nautical mile will almost double India's present EEZ. UNCLOS permits extension of EEZ beyond the usual 200 nautical miles limit, to a maximum of 350 nautical miles, if the evidence shows that continental shelf extends beyond 200 nautical miles. For the integrated management and mapping of the EEZ, India's Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) initiated an ongoing project in 1999 which was only 30% complete in 2018. A team of 60 scientists from several national institutes began undertaking multi-disciplinary studies on geo-scientific mapping, physiography, sedimentology, paleoclimatology and Himalayan tectonics, hydrology of India and monsoon of South Asia, mineral resource availability. Scientists and researchers involved in the studies come from several institutes and universities, such as the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), National Institute of Oceanography, India (NIO), National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Geological Survey of India (GSI) and many universities. These studies also enhance the preparedness against environmental hazards and socio-economic well-being of people living in Coastal India.[5]

Neighbouring EEZs

See also: History of Indian influence on Southeast Asia and Indianisation

Neighbouring EEZ of other nations from west to east are:

EEZ Dispute (Y/N) Distance Comments
Pakistan Yes Contiguous Sir Creek dispute
Sri Lanka No Contiguous Resolved under Indo-Sri Lankan Maritime agreement (Katchatheevu Island).
Maldives No Contiguous Resolved under India–Maldives maritime treaty (Minicoy Island).
Bangladesh No Contiguous Resolved through India–Bangladesh maritime arbitration.
Myanmar No India's Landfall Island is 40 km from Myanmar's Coco Islands India is developing Myanmar's strategic Sittwe Port as part of Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project.[6][7] See also India–Myanmar maritime boundary.
Indonesia No India's southernmost territory Indira Point is 135 km north of Indonesia's northernmost territory Rondo Island.[8][9] India is developing Indonesia's Sabang deepsea port under strategic economic and military partnership.[10]
Thailand No India's Tillangchong island north of Camorta Island in Nicobar is 440 km from Thailand's Ko Huyong in Similan Islands group).
India's Campbell Bay on Great Nicobar Island is 488 km from Thailand's Ko Racha Noi (Racha Noi Island) in Phuket Province.
Thailand has treaty-defined maritime boundaries with India, Myanmar, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Malaysia No India's Campbell Bay on Great Nicobar Island is 630 km from Malaysia's nearest island Langkawi.

See also


  1. ^ "Sea Around Us – Fisheries, Ecosystems and Biodiversity". Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  2. ^ "Lakshadweep". Archived from the original on 27 January 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  3. ^ Sawhney, Pravin (30 January 2019). "A watchtower on the high seas". The Tribune. Archived from the original on 16 April 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  4. ^ a b Sunderarajan, P. (12 June 2011). "India hopes to double its EEZ". The Hindu. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f The Exclusive Economic Zone of the Seas around India, 24 January 2018.
  6. ^ Purushothaman, Vakkom. "Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project to link sea route in Myanmar with Mizoram". The Northeast Times. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  7. ^ India starts construction of ₹1,600-cr Mizoram-Myanmar Kaladan road , Business Line, 17 April 2018.
  8. ^ James Horsburgh, 1852, The India Directory, Or, Directions for Sailing to and from the East Indies, Page 63.
  9. ^ "Rondo Island, The Rich Uninhabited Island". Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  10. ^ Eyeing Southeast Asia, India builds port in Indonesia, Economic Times, 20 March 2019.