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This thesis examines the question what States are legally empowered to do under International Law when they seek to protect certain areas of their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In this context the regulation of shipping and other human activities under the Law of the Sea Convention and, in particular, the regime for special areas under Article 211(6) of the Convention are addressed. Global and regional instruments containing mechanisms to protect specific areas are discussed and relevant State practice is considered with a view to possible implications on customary international law. Finally guidance is given as to what States can practically do to protect specific areas of their EEZ for environmental reason.