Territorial Waters

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Related to Contiguous zone: international waters, continental shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone, Territorial sea, UNCLOS

Territorial Waters

The part of the ocean adjacent to the coast of a state that is considered to be part of the territory of that state and subject to its sovereignty.

In International Law the term territorial waters refers to that part of the ocean immediately adjacent to the shores of a state and subject to its territorial jurisdiction. The state possesses both the jurisdictional right to regulate, police, and adjudicate the territorial waters and the proprietary right to control and exploit natural resources in those waters and exclude others from them. Territorial waters differ from the high seas, which are common to all nations and are governed by the principle of freedom of the seas. The high seas are not subject to appropriation by persons or states but are available to everyone for navigation, exploitation of resources, and other lawful uses. The legal status of territorial waters also extends to the seabed and subsoil under them and to the airspace above them.

From the eighteenth to the middle of the twentieth century, international law set the width of territorial waters at one league (three nautical miles), although the practice was never wholly uniform. The United States established a three-mile territorial limit in 1793. International law also established the principle that foreign ships are entitled to innocent passage through territorial waters.

By the 1970s, however, more than forty countries had asserted a twelve-mile limit for their territorial waters. In 1988 President ronald reagan issued Executive Proclamation 5928, which officially increased the outer limit of U.S. territorial waters from three to twelve miles (54 Fed. Reg. 777). This limit also applies to Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The Reagan administration claimed the extension of the limit was primarily motivated by national security concerns, specifically to hinder the operations of spy vessels from the Soviet Union that plied the U.S. coastline. Another reason for the extension was the recognition that most countries had moved to a twelve-mile limit. In 1982, at the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, 130 member countries ratified the Convention on the Law of the Sea, which included a recognition of the twelve-mile limit as a provision of customary international law. Although the United States voted against the convention, 104 countries had officially claimed a twelve-mile territorial sea by 1988.


Law of the Sea; Navigable Waters.

References in periodicals archive ?
The contiguous zone may extend up to 12 miles beyond the territorial sea (24 miles from the coast or the baseline from which the territorial sea is measured).
It is the third day in a row Chinese patrol ships were seen sailing in the contiguous zone outside Japanese waters, while a Taiwanese patrol vessel was last seen navigating the area Thursday.
The Japan Coast Guard said the activists' boat entered the contiguous zone along with its four Taiwan Coast Guard escort vessels at around 11:05 a.
It is the fifth straight day that the Chinese vessels have been spotted in Japan's contiguous zone.
It is not clear why the Chinese vessels entered the contiguous zone, but none of the vessels have entered Japanese waters," Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto told reporters.
Leveraging Meru's Virtual AP technology, Auburn University's College of Engineering is able to easily deploy multiple Meru access points on a single channel to provide a contiguous zone of outdoor coverage without causing interference to the existing indoor deployment.
For the most part the potentially, economic mineralization is confined to a contiguous zone.
According to the coast guard, a Taiwanese government patrol ship was spotted on Monday morning in the contiguous zone, which is a band of water just outside a nation's territorial sea.
7 ft) contiguous zone of copper stringer mineralization.
A ship with Taiwanese activists aboard was spotted Friday morning in the contiguous zone outside Japan's territorial waters near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea claimed by both China and Taiwan, the Japan Coast Guard said.
Since Wednesday, four Chinese maritime surveillance vessels have been in the contiguous zone near the group of islands in the East China Sea, according to the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, the report said.