Marine Affairs

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The legal and institutional issues posed by competing uses of the oceans and coastal zones have proven to be one of the century's most daunting challenges. Already, 75% of the world's population lives within 100 miles of the seashore, and that number is expected to rise to 85 % within two decades.

Marine environmental problems occur with increasing frequency, while conservation and management issues are capturing national and international attention. In the Pacific Northwest, marine trade and transportation have become vitally important to our economy and to our role in the Pacific Rim. Similarly, marine tourism has become an important source of revenue to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

The UW's programs in Marine Affairs and Law and Marine Affairs have earned national and international distinction for their contributions over the years to understanding these issues. The work of UW professor Edward L. Miles is pre- eminent in this arena. Miles, who joined the UW faculty in 1974, holds the Virginia and Prentice Bloedel Professorship of Marine and Public Affairs, and served as director of the UW Institute of Marine Studies/ School of Marine Affairs (IMS/SMA) from 1982 to 1993. Building on the foundation provided by his predecessors Donald L. McKernan and Warren S. Wooster, Miles developed the IMS/SMA into what has been acknowledged to be the best marine affairs program in the world.

Miles played a critical role in the ten-year long United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), which ran from 1973 to 1982. That conference was aimed at negotiating a new world ocean regime. Since the 17th century, the law of the sea was based on the idea of open access and limited coastal state authority over coastal waters. The conference reversed that approach, creating 200-mile exclusive economic zones under the jurisdiction of coastal nations. The new regime gives countries sovereign rights over living and non-living resources in those coastal zones. The amount of the globe at stake is staggering: about 35% of the planet's area falls in these 200-mile coastal zones. Miles provided the most detailed and authoritative analyses of the UNCLOS II as the negotiations proceeded over this ten-year time frame. His analyses were read by most of the delegations participating in the conference, and he was frequently consulted unofficially about directions in which negotiations were heading. A book by Miles entitled Global Ocean Politics: The Decision-Process at The Third United Nations Conference of The Law of the Sea, 1973-1982, published by Kluwer Law International (The Hague, 1997), gives an account of the experience.

Miles is the author of many studies on marine policy and ocean management. In April of 1993, he served as the United Nations designated expert in the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection. And in 1994, he was appointed lead author for marine policy of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change 1995 Re-assessment of the Global Climate Change Problem.

A graduate program in the UW law school also has earned national and international recognition. For over twenty years, the Law and Marine Affairs program has prepared students in a broad range of legal, economic, political, scientific, and technological factors that shape marine affairs.

The program has been widely praised for its emphasis on interdisciplinary aspects of marine affairs and coastal zone management. In addition to law classes, the course of study may include classes from the schools of marine affairs, oceanography, fisheries, public health, public affairs, economics, geography, and political science.

"We seek to prepare legal and policy analysis equipped to assist in developing and implementing an ocean management regime for the 21st century and beyond," notes Craig H. Allen, program director. "In addition to a strong core of U.S. students, the program has attracted students from many areas of the world including Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Pacific Island nations. Many entering students are experienced law practitioners who bring to the program--and to their fellow students--diverse backgrounds, knowledge, and educational needs. In completing the research and writing requirements of the program, these students have made significant contributions to the ocean law and policy development literature."

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