Law of the Sea

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  • Topic: Territorial waters, Exclusive Economic Zone, Jurisdiction
  • Pages : 8 (2590 words )
  • Download(s) : 80
  • Published : November 12, 2012
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Territorial Sea is established up to 12 miles from the baseline of the coast. This is an extension of the land and the coastal state exerts full sovereignty over the area. It is an area of national jurisdiction. Also establishes a contiguous zone where the coastal State may exercise the control necessary to (1) prevent infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations (2) punish infringement of the above laws and regulations committed within its territory or territorial sea. The contiguous zone may not extend beyond 24 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.

1 Compare and contrast the powers of coastal states in internal waters, the territorial sea and the contiguous zone. Internal Waters are assimilated into the territory of the state. A coastal state may exercise jurisdiction over foreign ships within its internal waters to enforce its laws, although the judicial authorities of the flag state may also act where crimes have occurred on board the ship. There exists therefore a concurrent jurisdiction.[1] A merchant vessel in a foreign port or in foreign internal waters is automatically subject to local jurisdiction unless the matter was concerning general conduct of the crew where it did not threaten peace and security it would be left, through courtesy to the flag state.

In the case of a warship however the authorisation of the captain or of the flag state is necessary before the coastal state may exercise its jurisdiction. Due to the status of warships as a direct arm of the sovereign if the flag state.

Contiguous Zone - Historically some states have claimed to exercise rights over particular zones of the high seas. This has diluted the principle of the freedom of the high seas. There have been numerous reasons for such extended authority including (1) prevention of infringement on customs, immigration or sanitary laws (2) to conserve fishing stock (3) to enable coastal state to have exclusive or principal rights. It enables coastal states to protect something without extending their territorial sea and is a compromise measure. These zones are not attached to the land territory in law.

Concept was introduced in 1930 by French writer Gidel and it appeared in the Convention on the Territorial Sea. Sanitary and immigration enforcement is justifiable by the 1958 Convention but protection of customs has long been established. Contiguous zones were restricted to within 12 miles so a state which had claimed a 12 mile territorial sea were exempt from this. This coupled with the restriction of jurisdiction to customs, sanitary and immigration maters is the reason for the decline in the relevance of contiguous zones in recent years. However, based on the 1982 Convention a state may claim up to 24 miles in order to preserve the concept. The 1982 Convention also changed the status of the contiguous zone from being part of the high seas to part of the EEZ.

Territorial Sea comes within the sovereignty of a coastal state also extending to the airspace. These were drafted in the 1982 Convention and represent customary international law. Width of the territorial sea is set at 12 miles. Coastal state may also exclude foreign nationals and vessels from fishing within its territorial sea and, subject to agreements to the contrary, from coastal trading and reserve these activities for its own citizens. Coastal state also has extensive powers relating to security and customs matters.

Jurisdiction over foreign ships when in passage through territorial sea, the coastal state may only exercise its criminal jurisdiction as regards the arrest of any person or the investigation of any matter connected with a crime committed on board ship in defined situations. These are cited in Article 27(1) of the 1982 Convention, reaffirming Article 19(1) of the 1958 Convention. (1) if the consequences of the crime extend to the coastal state. (2) if the crime...
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