Underlying the Caspian are some of the world's largest oil reserves, and the five surrounding countries, all with major stakes in oil-field development, have disputed zones of control, although Russia has signed territorial agreements with Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. The Caspian also has important fisheries. The northern part of the sea is the chief source of beluga caviar, but the destruction of spawning areas and illegal fishing has greatly reduced the number of sturgeon, and fishing quotas have been imposed. In 2003 a framework treaty for the protection of the sea's environment was signed by four of the surrounding nations; Turkmenistan did not sign. The Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, signed in 2018 by the bordering nations, established different guidelines for the division of the surface waters, which are divided into territorial waters (15 nautical mi/28.8 km), fishing waters (an additional 10 nautical mi/18.5 km), and common waters, and the seabed, which is divided into exclusive zones determined by bilateral agreements.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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