Admiralty law is a body of rules that regulates disputes arising on the sea. Application of admiralty law happen both at domestic and international level. As no one nation can claim sovereignty over the sea. There are various admiralty or maritime laws, common ones to turn to are “the law of the sea” which is a body of international law governing the rights and duties of states in maritime environments. While drawn from a number of international customs, treaties, and agreements, modern law of the sea derives largely from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), effective since 1994, which is generally accepted as a codification of customary international law of the sea, and is sometimes regarded as the “constitution of the oceans”.
UNCLOS also established (ITLOS) The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) is an intergovernmental organization created by the mandate of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. There are three types of zones that a nation can completely exercise its jurisdiction in as mentioned in the UNLCOS below:
- Territorial waters and internal waters,
- Contiguous zone and
- Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)
- And the High Seas (which no nation has jurisdiction to).
Under Section 2, Article 3 defines the limits of territorial waters as: “Every State has the right to establish the breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical miles, measured from baselines determined in accordance with this Convention.” Section 4, Article 33 of UNCLOS defines the contiguous zone as, “The contiguous sone may not extend beyond 24 nautical miles from the baseline from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.” EEZ provides coastal nations with:
- Sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring, exploiting, conserving, and managing natural resources of the seabed, subsoil, and waters above it.
- Jurisdiction as provided for in international law with regard to the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations, and structures; marine scientific research; and the protection and preservation of the marine environment.
- Other rights and duties provided for under international law.
“The United States claimed a 200-nautical-mile EEZ in 1983 (Presidential Proclamation No. 5030 of March 10, 1983). This zone extends beyond and adjacent to the seaward boundary of the 12-nautical-mile (14-mile) territorial sea of the United States. This area includes Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and other U.S. possessions. With more 3.4 million square nautical miles (4 million square miles) of ocean, the U.S. EEZ is larger than the land area of all 50 states combined and is one of the largest EEZs in the world. It contains a vast array of natural resources, such as seafood, critical minerals, medicines, and areas of significant ecological and conservation value. Despite the importance of these resources to the health and security of our nation, only about 40 percent of the U.S. EEZ has been mapped, and significantly less has been fully characterized, meaning that these resources remain poorly understood and undefined.”
As stated earlier, each country has their defined jurisdiction on how they make use of the sea, and the same is governed and limits are set accordingly. As such, various maritime advancements have taken place which led to the creation of multitude of multilateral treaties. For example: The European Union and at least 167 countries are part of UNCLOS.
High Seas: “International waters” is not a defined term in international law. It is an informal term, which sometimes refers to waters beyond the “territorial sea” of any country. In other words, “international waters” is sometimes used as an informal synonym for the more formal term high seas or, in Latin, mare liberum (meaning free sea). Part VII of the UNCLOS states general provisions in regards to High Seas. Article 87 of UNCLOS states: “The high seas are open to all States, whether coastal or land locked. Freedom of the high seas is exercised under the conditions laid down by this Convention and by other rules of international law.”
Each country that exercises their right in the High Seas need to establish their identity, Article 91 states that “hips have the nationality of the State whose flag they are entitled to fly. There must exist a genuine link between the State and the ship.” This means that each state, whose ship is on the high seas need to sail under their respective country’s flag.
To know more on international maritime legislation, please refer to one of our articles on the same at https://laymanlitigation.com/what-are-the-ocean-laws-international-maritime-legisl
 James Harrison, Making the Law of the Sea: A Study in the Development of International Law (2011), p. 1.  "Rhodian Sea Law | Byzantine law". Encyclopedia Britannica and refer "Law of the Sea | international law ". Encyclopedia Britannica.  International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea - Wikipedia  UNCLOS pdf, refer at Ch_XXI_6_english_p.pdf (un.org)  Ibid.  Beloww mentioned points have been retrieved from What is the “EEZ”?: Exploration Facts: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research  Id 6.  International waters - Wikipedia  Buchanan, Michael. "Who's in charge here?". ShareAmerica.  Ibid 8.  PREAMBLE TO THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA  Id 11.