I can see maritime trade zones on the AJE map that contain merchant fleets. However zones only get one brief mention in the manual.
I would be interested to know how these zone work & how players can disrupt/control these zones.
The zones produce a certain amount of income each turn; determined by how many trade fleets are stationed in them (best to protect them!). Control of them comes down to a naval battle essentially. (Someone please correct me if I'm wrong).
Think WIA naval zones. Steady EP/Supply $$ for faction. Containers for merchant fleets which can be attacked by naval raiders. Typically left alone. Mutually hostile factions can each have merchants in the same zone.