Marine Zone Delimitation

Marine Zone Definition+ Breadth Legal regime
Internal Waters- IW Within the baselines  

Waters on the landward side of the baseline of the territorial sea form part of the internal waters of the State. (article 8 LOSC). That is, waters within the baselines are under sovereignty of the coastal State. Baselines are determined by four systems:

– Normal baselines

– Straight baselines (right to innocent passage is recognised in Internal Waters- only in this case-)

– Baselines across bays and river mouths.

– Islands (but not archiepelagic States)



Territorial Sea- TS 12nm from baselines Sovereignty

(«ships of all States, whether coastal or land-locked, enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea»- art. 17 L0SC)



– warships

– submarines other underwater vehicles(ar. 20 LOSC) «In the territorial sea, submarines and other underwater vehicles are required to navigate on the surface and to show their flag.»

Foreign nuclear-powered ships and ships carrying nuclear (precautionary measures- art.23)


Jurisdiction.- article 27 (1)

The criminal jurisdiction of the coastal State should not be exercised on board a foreign ship passing through the territorial sea to arrest any person or to conduct any investigation in connection with any crime committed on board the ship during its passage, save only in the following cases:

(a) if the consequences of the crime extend to the coastal State;

(b) if the crime is of a kind to disturb the peace of the country or the good order of the territorial sea;

(c) if the assistance of the local authorities has been requested by the master of the ship or by a diplomatic agent or consular officer of the flag State; or

(d) if such measures are necessary for the suppression of illicit traffic in narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances.


Civil jurisdiction in relation to foreign ships (art.28 LOSC)

1. The coastal State should not stop or divert a foreign ship passing through the territorial sea for the purpose of exercising civil jurisdiction in relation to a person on board the ship.

Contiguous Zone- CZ 24 nm from baselines; 12 nm from TS Article 33 LOSC.- The coastal State may exercise the control necessary to:

(a) prevent infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations within its territory or territorial sea;

(b) punish infringement of the above laws and regulations committed within its territory or territorial sea.


There are two interpretations of what article 33 allows: a strict, textual interpretation and a more liberal interpretation.

-A strict interpretation emphasises that article 33 does not give a State legislative power to extend its customs, lasw into the contiguous zone.The contiguous zone is an enforcement zone: a state may only take action against ships which have already committed an offence in its territorial sea or territory. So, art. 33 (b) thus applies either to outbound ships (leaving after having committed some offence) or “hovering”vessels which have used small boats to communicate with the shore (e.g. to complete a smuggling offence). In addition, paragraph (a) would allow preventive measures such as inspection and warning regarding inbound ships. It could not, however, justify arrest because no offence would yet have been committed.


The more liberal interpretation would allow states to extend their relevant legislation into the contiguous zone. Breaches of customs, fiscal, immigration and sanitary laws can be committed in that zone and result in enforcement measures such as boarding, inspection and the rest of a vessel and its crew. Some States do take the liberal view in their national legislation, including India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.


The contiguous zone also provides jurisdiction over archaelogical objects: article 303 (2) UNCLOS: “In order to control traffic in (archaoelogical and historical) objects, the coastal State, may…presume that their removal from the seabed in the (contiguous) zone…without its approval would result in an infringement within its territory or territorial sea of (its) laws and regulations (under article 33)”


As Tanaka explains this provision creates two legal fictions:

-First, removal of archaeological artefacts is treated as an infringement of the laws that may be applied in the contiguous zone.

– Second, such removal is treated as if it occurred in the territorial sea (Tanaka)



Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) 200 nm from baselines The exclusive economic zone is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea, subject to the specific legal regime, under which the rights and jurisdiction of the coastal State and the rights and freedoms of other States are governed by the relevant provisions of LOSC.

1st. The coastal State has:

«(a) sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and its subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds;

(b) jurisdiction as provided for in the relevant provisions of this Convention with regard to:

(i) the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations and structures;

(ii) marine scientific research;

(iii) the protection and preservation of the marine environment;

(c) other rights and duties provided for in this Convention.

2. In exercising its rights and performing its duties under this Convention in the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State shall have due regard to the rights and duties of other States and shall act in a manner compatible with the provisions of this Convention.

3. The rights set out in this article with respect to the seabed and subsoil shall be exercised in accordance with Part VI.»


2nd. Under articles 60 and 246 UNCLOS the coastal state has jurisdiction in the exclusive economic zone over artificial islands, economic installantions and structures, and marine scientific research conducted in the water column or on the continental shelf.

-The coastal State has exlusive authority to authorise the construction of artificial islands and other structures, and its laws apply on board them.

-Third States retain the rights that they have on the high seas of navigation or overflight, and the right to lay submarine pipelines and cables (on the seabeds). However, when third State navigate in the EEZ must have due regard for the rights of the coastal state and comply with its laws and regulations (regarding those matters where it has rights or jurisdiction).

3rd. Under article 58, the law of the high seas (articles 88 to 115 UNCLOS) continues to apply in the EEZ to the extent it is not incompatible with the rights and jurisdiction of the coastal state. E.g. PIRACY


e.g. refueling or bunkering in the EEZ (vid. Slides)



High Seas Article 86 UNCLOS.- Rest (not Area, not seabed) 1.The principle of the freedom of the high seas (art. 87(1)

A.Freedom of navigation.

B.Freedom of overflight

C.Freedom to lay submarine cables and pipelines.

D.Freedom to construct artificial islands and other installations.

E.Freedom of fishing.

F.Freedom of scientific research.


2.The principle of the exclusive jurisdiction of a flag state on the high seas.- The flag state, being that state which has granted a ship the right to fly its flag, has exclusive jurisdiction over that vessel while it is on the high sea- Any State can be a flag State-

This principle is articulated in article 92 (1) UNCLOS as: “Ships shall sail under the flag of one State only and, sabe in exceptional cases expressly provided for in international treaties or in this Convention, shall be subject to its exclusive jurisdiction on the high seas”.- A ship using two or more sets national registration can be treated as stateless under article 92 (2) UNCLOS. The flag state, for example, will have jurisdiction over the crew even if they are foreigners. Principally, this means the flag state can enforce its law aboar the vessel and is responsable for seeing that the vessel complies with certain international obligations.


Exceptions to the exclusive jurisdiction of the flag State:


I.Hot pursuit: the doctrine of hot pursuit allows a vessel which has commmitted an offence within the jurisdiction of the coastal state to be pursued onto the high seas and arrested there, so long as certain conditions are met.- 111 UNCLOS

1.Hot pursuit can only be conducted by a ship or aircraft marked an identifiable as being on government service.

2.The coastal state must have good reason to believe that the foreign vessel has violated the laws or regulations of the coastal state in the zone under its jurisdiction.

3.Pursuit must commence when the vessel is within one of the coastal state´s maritime zones.

4.Pursuit many be commenced after visual or auditory signal to stop has been given at an appropriate distance.

5.Pursuit must be continuous – but can be transferred between vessels.

6.The rights of hot pursuits ends as son as the pursuit vessel enters the terriorial se of another state.


II. Moveover, high seas includes right of visit, that is vessels suspected of piracy, slave trade, unauthorised high seas broadcasting, without nationality o despite flying a foreign flag or refusing to show its flag is in fact of the same nationality as inercepting warship.— Limits: compensation.


While there is no agreed definition “flag of convenience”, essentialy it refers to a State which will allow a ship which has little or no connection with it to register under its flag. This may allow shipping owner to evade taxation and labour and crewing standars that would apply in their state of nationality or incorporation (safety, labour conditions, pollution and fisheries regulations).

The ability of other states to interfere with foreign vessels on the high seas, even those registered to a flag of convenience is very limited