Territorial Waters

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Related to Territorial sea: Contiguous zone, Exclusive Economic Zone, 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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Seas and Submerged Lands Act declares and enacts Australia's sovereignty in respect of the territorial sea (which extends up to 12 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured).
The nature of the right of passage for shipping through the territorial sea and through international straits is a key question, one that lies at the heart of the sovereignty debate.
This is defined by internal waters inside the baselines that are used to measure the extent of national jurisdictional waters, the territorial sea of 12 nautical miles (nm), the EEZ of 200 nm, and the continental shelf of 200 nm (in some cases up to 350 nm), outward from the baselines.
"The United States is concerned about the activities of the drillship Yavuz, which is operating within the territorial sea of the Republic of Cyprus.
that generates no territorial sea or extended maritime zones).
A right of transit passage for other states exists in an EEZ adjacent to a coastal state if a strait is located therein that is used for international navigation and does not fall within the latter's territorial sea. The Indian Navy does not possess this right, which has to be continuous and expeditious, in Pakistan's EEZ because there is no international strait in its vicinity.
"The Ukrainian Navy's vessels the Berdyansk, the Nikopol and the Yany Kapu, which violated Russia's state border this morning, made another attempt of committing illegal activities in Russia's territorial sea at 19:00 Moscow time on November 25," the FSB said, TASS reported.
The joint mine warfare exercise, held with the support of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2) is set to be conducted from 9 to 17 November, at the polygons in the territorial sea and the contiguous zone of the Republic of Bulgaria, reportsA BulgarianMilitary.com
On 21 September Turkish navy ships intercepted and arrested a fishing vessel, flying the flag of Cyprus, within the 12-nautical-mile territorial sea of Cyprus at a distance of 7.5 nautical miles from Cape Kormakitis, situated on the northern coast.
The article no.6 of the Law of the Sea states that foreign vessels exercising the right of passage in the territorial sea shall observe the laws and regulations in force in the Syrian Arab Republic as well as the provisions of international laws, in particular those related to transport, navigation, cable protection, pipelines, conservation of living resources, fisheries, scientific research and pollution works.
Soo reminded the state government of the rising public sentiments against the audacity of the federal government in breaching Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) by changing the state's territorial boundaries and using the Petroleum Development Act 1974 and the Territorial Sea Act 2012 to mine oil and gas resources.
How would Scotland | The royal couple at Saturday's big wedding and Wales defend themselves against Russian intrusion into air space, territorial sea limit and land incursion?