AN APPRAISAL OF THE LAW OF THE SEA AND NIGERIA’S MARINE POLICY

208

AN APPRAISAL OF THE LAW OF THE SEA AND NIGERIA’S MARINE POLICY

ABSTRACT

The importance of the sea not only as a source of food and means of transport but also as a potential source of finding solutions to many of man’s social, economic, political and ecological problems has created the impetus for the legal division of the world’s oceans into national and international jurisdictions. This legal regime evolved historically through state practices beginning from the Spanish and Portuguese control of the world oceans in 1493 to the signing of a broad-based and comprehensive treaty, the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS Ill), in 1982. This treaty is not only a comprehensive legal instrument that embodies one of the latest codification and progressive development of international law, but is also a legal base for national ocean policies.of nation-states. Nigeria participated in the negotiations that led to the signing of the treaty in 1982. She also ratified the convention on August 14, 138’3, eight years before it came into fore,\ on November 16, 1994. This study undertakes a -:::ritical evaluation of the influence of the raw of the sea on the emergence of a comprehensive marine oolicy in Nigeria. Having done this, our general conclusion is that the evolution ~l”!rl development of marine policy depend on the politics and global legislations on the sea as nations struggle for share of the mass resources of the sea. This suggests that national ocean policies must be part of national planning which have been found to be absent in Nigeria. Besides, the complexity of the ocean medium itself requires integrative structures of various dimensions for effective ocean policy. Ocean policy, therefore, requires integration at the local, state and national  levels as well as national development planning. There must also be integration of. international ocean relations at the regional ane global levels. The most significant specific conclusions reached from our analysis, evaluation and findings are that (I) sectoral approach and lack of co-ordination and harmonization between institutions of policy formulation and implementation are the major factors which impaired the emergence of a comprehensive ocean policy in Nigeria; (ii) there is institutional inadequacy as the country does not have a central authority that oversees ocean affairs; (iii) there still exists a legislative vacuum as far as maritime laws are concerned: while some existing maritime legislations are outdated and conflict with current international practices, there are areas in which laws· have not yet been enacted; and (iv) although there is some degree of awareness as to the need for a comprehensive ocean policy in Nigeria, there is complete lack of political will on the part of governmental authorities to include ocean policy into national development plans. On the basis of these conclusions, we have made some recommendations which centre on tne national legislations for institutional restructuring in order to enhance the evolution of an intrgrated ocean policy in Nigeria

______________________________________