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The global freshwater shortage has already reached crisis levels. The World Health Organization and UNICEF estimate that there are over 700 million people in the world without access to clean drinking water. While this crisis continues to intensify, a massive, game changing source of freshwater is floating in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans, slowly melting away: icebergs. This Note analyzes the potential for harvesting icebergs as a freshwater source on a global scale. By focusing on and illustrating the legal status of icebergs on the high seas, this Note seeks to demonstrate why icebergs are res nullius—existing in a legal vacuum. Proceeding under the substantiated assumption that icebergs are res nullius, this Note suggests that unilateral action by the United States is the most effective way to ascertain whether iceberg harvesting is, in fact, a practical solution to the global freshwater shortage. Further, if iceberg harvesting is established as such a solution, this Note suggests that unilateral U.S. action is also the most effective way to jumpstart an international iceberg harvesting industry. Finally, this Note proposes two regulatory options for how the U.S. Government can promulgate a legal regime to regulate a future iceberg harvesting industry.


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8 Sep 2022
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  • Subject
    • Environmental Law

    • International Law

    • International Trade Law

    • Law of the Sea

    • Natural Resources Law

  • Journal title
    • Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review

  • Volume
    • 42

  • Issue
    • 2

  • Pagination
    • 439

  • Date submitted

    8 September 2022