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Quote of the Day - Sharks have been swimming the oceans unchallenged for thousands of years; chances are, the species that roams corporate waters will prove just as hardy. - Eric Gelman
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Zoning The Ocean Around Us

The federal government asserts a 200-mile territory of jurisdiction extending from the land.  That area is largely policed by the Coast Guard, using just 1,400 boats and 211 planes over 12,383 miles of coastline

Just in case you didn't pull your calculator out, that's 2,476,600 square miles.  To put it in perspective, those numbers equate to one Coast Guard unit (boat or plane) for every 1,537 square miles of ocean that have to be patrolled 24/7/365.  The Coast Guard has 40,150 personnel on active duty.

So, in a forty-hour workweek, each square mile of 1,537 could be patrolled once by one person, assuming no breaks and no one sitting behind a desk and assuming the boat or plane was piloted by one person.  Do the math.  It's not great odds, especially if you're lost at sea in one square foot of those square miles. 

Each state controls three miles out from its shoreline under the Submerged Lands Act.  They manage, develop, and lease that state's natural resources throughout the water and seabed. On the other hand, the federal government's 200-mile jurisdiction arises from the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, but it can also assert control within the state's jurisdictional three-mile area.

So now that you understand the numbers and the whys and wherefores, why am I giving you all this background?  One state has followed the 2003 recommendation of the Pew Oceans Commission.

I knew you were curious. 

Massachusetts has passed landmark legislation that seeks to establish a comprehensive plan to balance the commercial and recreational uses of oceans and the protection of its environmental value.  The legislators are going to zone the ocean.  You know, like Residential, Commercial, Industrial and Open Space.

I'm not kidding.

Governor Patrick signed the Oceans Act (S 2699) into law at the end of May 2008.  The news just reached California (it must have traveled by a slow boat via China or got stuck in a postal zone). 

What a novel idea.  Zoning.  Not much different than the way we zone land, except it moves.  Don't tell the fish; they'll never get it.

So now proposals for fishing, recreation (think sunbathing on the beach), liquefied natural gas terminals, gas pipelines, oil drilling, sewage disposal, storm water runoff, desalination plants, garbage barges, nuclear power plants, sand mining on the seabed, scientific research, marinas, moorings, floating cities, telecommunications cables, wind farms and innumerable other uses of the ocean must be  balanced and considered, along with the need to preserve the oceans and the environment, and all by an apparently all-powerful ocean zoning commission.

Don't worry, though.  The Coast Guard will still rescue you within the three-mile zone.  You may need a permit, however.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, June 16, 2008 at 21:58 Comments Closed (1) |
 
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