Correlation of EEZ, international boundaries, and the laws presiding?

So, today I was having a discussion with a crew member where “International waters” were brought up. I had said that where we were was not truly international waters as we were still inside the EEZ. We started talking about how different industries operate and how cruise ships allow gambling outside 12 miles (I believe that is a state thing not federal but I am not certain), you can shop the duty free stores outside of 12 miles, etc.

I started looking up some articles and trying to find resources that would not overload me or just turn my brain to mush. I found a couple threads on here discussing the Jones Act and the EEZ and a few other sources. So I have a few questions and would also like to know if anyone has any good links to where I can learn a little more so that I have a better grasp on these things without having to go get a law degree…

I read that the US views drilling rigs and other structures to be points of the US when on the OCS and it did not matter where they were flagged. They still cannot carry US cargo from one US port to another under Jones Act which I understand. Where is the cut off for this? What kind of ships; Only those that connect to the bottom?

Does the Jones Act apply in the EEZ 200 Mile limit or does it stop within another boundary?

What is the difference in the 12 mile and 200 mile boundaries? Does the EEZ only give the US the rights to the minerals and other marketable assets and the 12 mile boundary is inclusive of all other laws?

Any information or links would be greatly appreciated as I am sure this is a more complicated question than I envisioned.

Here’s an authoritative source for maritime limits:

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Thanks!! This is pretty basic and provides a good bit of info!

Not sure why I did not find that on my own… Thanks again!

The Jones Act has nothing to do with any of those boundaries.

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Any vessels on the OCS that connect to the bottom count as a “US port” as far as coustoms is concerned as well as Jones Act protections. That’s why foreign supply boats can’t take equipment out to a Liberian flagged drill ship and why you don’t have to do customs paperwork every time you depart for and return from foreign flag drill ships. (You do have to clear customs when the rig isn’t connected to the bottom.)

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I think my typing was out running my brain… I knew that it did not have any bearing on the Jones Act. I think I got so far into reading and looking into things that I got into a fog…

I did not know that anything connected to the bottom on the OCS was considered a “US Port” but that clarifies why we input them on the Corps of Engineers.

I knew that when the rigs were not connected to the bottom we were sending in a Customs list.

So, I am assuming that the 12 mile territorial zone is where your common laws of the US apply (everyday laws like the gambling rules and whatever common laws) then after that and out to the 200 mile limit we have laid claims to economic assets. So, what is occuring in my mind is that some power of law is released after that 12 mile zone.

Do I have my line of thinking correct?

Thanks again for taking the time to clear the fog of my mind…

As far as I know, that’s correct.

Be aware though, that US flag vessels and also considered US territory anywhere in the world. Basically all federal laws except duties on bonded stores apply onboard no matter where you are.

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Ok, thanks for the information.

I spent way too much time reading article and trying to decipher with my non legal trained mind. One day in a, land far far away, they will make things pretty cut and dry with no need to have a doctorate to understand something that should be a basic concept…

I would love for a lawyer (@jdcavo) to chime in.


It’s not my specialty. I have very little experience or familiarity with it. Law of the Sea is not Admiralty. The closest Iexperience I have is defending commercial fishermen cited for fishing in closed areas (quick summary: if the USCG cited them, we fought it and usually won. If it was Canada, we pushed settlement and if the client wanted to contest it, we usually lost).

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