Australia's marine jurisdictions under international and domestic law



Publication Details

Gullett, W and Rose, G, Australia's marine jurisdictions under international and domestic law, in Gullett, W, Schofield, C and Vince, J (eds) Marine Resources Management, Chatswood, NSW, LexisNexis Butterworths, 2011, 25-40.


This chapter explains Australia's international maritime zones and domestic marine jurisdictions in order to understand the nature and geographical operation of laws that apply in Australian waters. The task of determining the type of laws that can operate in Australian waters, as well as the geographical extent of those laws, is particularly difficult because Australia is a federation. In addition to authorising the Australian Parliament to make certain laws offshore, the Australian Constitution also enables the state parliaments to regulate some offshore activities. It is helpful if these laws are spatially defined so that people can know which laws apply to them when they are conducting activities at a particular location at sea, either on a vessel, in the water column or on the seabed. Yet the seaward limits of these laws may be difficult to locate and some laws may extend further out to sea than other laws. The international dimension provides another layer of complexity. Australia's 'rights' offshore are sourced in, and are limited by, the international 'Law of the Sea'. Yet it also needs to be recognised that international law grants other countries rights in Australian waters.

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