Between the shore and the high seas, the 230 mile stretch of water around the country belongs to that country. In this zone, you must respect the laws of that country as regards shipping, fishing and the use of natural resources. Beyond the 230 miles, we enter international waters or the “high seas” that belong to nobody. So, anyone can do just about what they want on the high seas, which cover over half the surface of the planet!
So who protects the resources of the high seas?
There are very few international laws for the oceans and it’s often nature protection agencies who alert people… For example, when the high seas are polluted by an oil tanker rinsing its tanks in the ocean… Or when certain marine species, such as bluefin tuna, are in danger because of overfishing. If a pharmaceutical laboratory discovered a seaweed with miraculous powers, it could harvest as much as it wanted, even if that destroyed the ocean’s ecosystem.
And this laboratory could even stop competitors using the same seaweed from the high seas… Like seaweed, countries are more and more interested in the oil and ore found below the ocean bed. That’s why the leaders of the world met in 2017: they want to find an agreement to regulate the oceans. So new laws could soon be voted to protect and share the high seas and its natural resources.