The quest for an international ocean regime came with the discovery of the common heritage of mankind. Science had laid bare the hidden environment of the deep oceans and seabeds; technology had put their riches at man's reach. But the wealth of the oceans was beyond the limits of national sovereignty, beyond the limits of the classical concept of ownership. There was no law, national or international, to regulate their uses, because technical advances had made the old law of the sea obsolete. So Either nations would go out there for a "grab," and, in the process, they would destroy one another and the oceans as well, or they would get together to make a new law, based on the concept that this was their common property and that it must be managed for the common good of all peoples.
Elisabeth M. Borgese,
Boom, Doom, and Gloom Over The Oceans: The Economic Zone, the Developing Nations, and the Conference on the Law of the Sea,
San Diego L. Rev.
Available at: https://digital.sandiego.edu/sdlr/vol11/iss3/3