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Old 03-16-2007, 10:58 AM   #1
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'Who has the right to board your yacht in International Waters?" Example:- if sailing in open seas can one refuse to let a US Navy Personnel board? Does it matter which flag one flies?
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Old 03-16-2007, 11:13 AM   #2
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This is a pretty easy one.

The competent authorities of the flag state have that authority and no one else with the exception of an instance of piracy where all warships have been given that authority in UNCLOS (United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea). Of course, in your example US authorities could contact the flag state who may authorise the boarding.

The right of free passage is enshrined in UNCLOS too.

I love this subject and wrote my dissertaion about this and the use of "appropriate levels of force" in maritime surveillance

Stephen

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Old 02-08-2008, 06:53 PM   #3
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An interesting topic in today's times - especially with various navies operating in other countries' waters.
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Old 02-08-2008, 07:31 PM   #4
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Please debate this issue if there is anyone with an opinion on this issue. It fascinated me as a student and it fascinates me now.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 02-09-2008, 12:42 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nausikaa View Post
Please debate this issue if there is anyone with an opinion on this issue. It fascinated me as a student and it fascinates me now.

Aye // Stephen
Perhaps you can explain the basics -by what international agreement(s) any State has the right to board a ship in international waters? Presumably no state has jurisdiction based on location. Am I obligated to display a flag of my State and/or carry home port identification visibly on an undocumented vessl? Does carrying such identification provide the basis on which an agent of my State can board?

I would consider any attempt to board by anyone in international waters to be an act of piracy. If not, what permissions from what court(s) would agents of the State require, eg/ some form of a warrant?
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Old 02-09-2008, 09:42 AM   #6
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There is currently an interesting situation playing out in OZ. Environmental activists recently boarded a Japanese whaling ship underway in the Southern ocean. The captain of the whaler forcibly detained the boarders before the governments of both Australia and Japan convinced the skipper of the whaler to hand the boarders to an Australian customs ship, which then put the 'activists' back on board their ship.

Australian Federal Police are currently examining the case with a view toward charging the activists with a series of offences.

Cheers

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Old 02-09-2008, 10:18 AM   #7
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Most agreements giving vessels of one state the right to board vessels flying the flag of another state are incorporated in fisheries agreements. For example a contracting party of NAFO (North West Atlantic Fisheries Organisation) has the obligation to provide surveillance vessels if its ships fish in the area. They have, by way of the Agreement, the right to stop, board and inspect fishing vessels of other contracting parties. The use of force is not permitted.

Outside the scope for fisheries agreements there are, to the best of my knowledge and belief, very few occasions when a vessel can be stopped in international waters, except by authorised ships flying the flag of the same state. This has been done in times of war, such as when the UK declared and imposed a safety zone around the Falkland Islands and warned that any, by them, unauthorised shipping would be sunk. The concept of declaring safety or no-go zones in wartime is an old concept and, I believe although I may be wrong, not proven in international courts.

The other occasions vessels can be stopped on the high seas is by warships only (not civilian inspection vessels) when the vessel has been engaged in piracy or in the case of hot pursuit. According to UNCLOS, hot pursuit must start in territorial waters or waters under the jurisdiction of the coastal state, i.e. the Exclusive Economic Zone. Hot pursuit must be continuous and can continue only until a pursued vessel enters the territorial waters of another state. Countries can, however, reach i-lateral agreements which allow it pursuit to continue further. An example of this is the agreement between Denmark and Sweden which allows hot pursuit to continue until the pursuit is taken over by a Danish vessel or the pursued vessel berths in a Danish port. In the case of hot pursuit, force maybe used to stop the pursued but it has to be proportional. There are examples of unproportional use of force, e.g. The Crown (on behalf of Canadavs. the U.S. in the case of the I'm Alone and the Crown vs. Denmark in the case of the Red Crusader. In both cases, the pursued British (Canadian in the first case but prior to Canada's independence) vessels were shot at and sunk and, in the first case, resulting in the death of two crew members. In the International Court, both the U.S. and Denmark were found to have used excessive force.

In another more recent case the Uruguayan (Spanish owned) fishing vessel Visara was discovered illegally fishing Patagonian toothfish off Heard Island by the Australian fisheries protection vessels (F.P.V.) Southern Supporter. The Southern Supporter ordered the Visara to stop to be boarded but the Visara set her best possible speed to the southwest and the pack ice. The chase continued until the ship was finally stopped south of the Cape of Good Hope after British and South African vessels joined the pursuit. The ship was taken back to Freemantle where the skipper and fishing master were put on trial but they got off on a technicality. Fellow moderator Auzzee might have more information on that.

That basically sums up the rights vessels have to stop others on the high seas in international waters. On the other hand, being practical about things, would you wave UNCLOS and demand your rights when looking down the barrel of a 4.7 inch naval gun? I know I can be obstinate about my "rights" and my ex-wife used to say that engraved on my headstone will be the words "He was Right".

Aye // Stephen
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Old 02-09-2008, 10:28 AM   #8
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The captain of the whaler forcibly detained the boarders before the governments of both Australia and Japan convinced the skipper of the whaler to hand the boarders to an Australian customs ship,
Good for the master of the whaler, not that I have sympathy for his whaling but authorities turning a blind eye to acts of piracy, even if committed in a good cause, is unacceptable. Unless it is stopped the field will be wide open for this form of protest which endangers both ship, crew and protester.

If Australia wants to protest against Japanese whaling I suggest it does as Canada did with the Koreans when discussing fishing in the Atlantic. "Follow the rules or we will not import a single Korean (read in this case Japanese) car next year" was the message- The fishing fleet was gone within two days.

Aye // Stephen
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