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Why not artificial natural land?

Home Forums Community General Chat Why not artificial natural land?

This topic contains 6 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of i_is_j_smith i_is_j_smith 2 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #21774
    Profile photo of Sean

    Is this even a good solution? Does such a thing exist? I want to say hi to you all. I have been appealed by the idea of creating your very own micronation and I would like to ask further questions. Since seasteading is still so expensive, is there any realistic alternative in the meantime?

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    It’s been tried, recently, dumping sand/dirt on an unclaimed sandbar to raise it above water at high tide (the definition of an island). An existing island nation promptly sent in military and confiscated it, 100’s of miles outside their previous 200mile EEZ. I have a bad feeling that if a sand bar is colonised by seasteaders again, they will be a recognised nation only if they can repel an invading military from an existing nation, and then approach the UN. If you raise a sandbar in the usa eez, they’ll likely arrest you for pollution. It’s been tried in Miami bay, some of the concrete is still exposed, but there’s no new nations or even towns.
    Sinking ships so they’d be islands, steel ships full of concrete and gravel, as well as sinking ships made of concrete, failed, technically and politically.
    There was once a loophole that amounted to this: you lower a pvc pipe from surface to the seabed, fill it with dirt, the dirt at the top of that pipe is an island. But now not even that “natural dirt” landfilled oil drilling island in Alaska is a island that cannot be be declared a separate nation, no matter where it was.
    The UK leaves Sealand alone because it’s not a bother, and the UK has said they don’t care if someone colonised that 60ft pinnacle north of Scotland. Thing is, even at 60ft, waves wash over that rock, and it’s not big enough to do anything with.
    There’s some seamounts, not legally islands, off San Diego, usa, that break the surface. They have also broken up a lot of ships. The usa has said if anyone tries to colonise them, they’d be arrested. There’s scuba, fishing, and surfing charter boats that frequent the area.
    You might consider working with an island nation, see if they’ll sell or lease you a sunken previously occupied island that’s now a sandbar. I doubt they’ll let you be a separate nation, but maybe they’ll be friendly if you’re friendly.
    Governments that owned their eez have dumped dirt on the bottom till it made an island, and called it an island, but they don’t need to let you do the same thing.
    So, i believe we are left with dirt on a boat. Or maybe a not-a-boat floating house, i don’t have any legal advice on that.

    Profile photo of Sean

    Interesting post. What about cities within an existing sovereign state, though that’s another creative idea.

    Profile photo of i_is_j_smith

    It’s been tried, recently, dumping sand/dirt on an unclaimed sandbar to raise it above water at high tide (the definition of an island). An existing island nation promptly sent in military and confiscated it, 100′s of miles outside their previous 200mile EEZ


    If you are referring to the Republic of Minerva, that wasn’t exactly “recently”.  And Tonga didn’t send the “military” as much as they sent a boat full of convicts with wooden clubs.  If Michael Oliver hadn’t abandoned the reef and just had a few people with rifles we might be referring to a Republic of Minerva today.  Raising an existing landmass above the waves is a viable seasteading option, but I’m not sure if any of the existing methods are any easier…or cheaper…than building a floating city or a Troll A or Draugen Condeep structure.


     It’s been tried in Miami bay….


    And failed because it was within sight of the US shore.  Again, seasteading is not possible within an existing nation’s EEZ.  That goes for floating barges, seafloor habitats, artificial islands…anything.  So it’s not an issue with the method, it’s an issue with the location.


    There was once a loophole that amounted to this…


    I’d like to see some information on this loophole.  That sounds like an interesting method that I had not thought of.  Build a 100m concrete cylinder, put it on the top of a high seamount, fill it with dirt and rock, and you have a 100m island.  Interesting.  Any links or sources for this?

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    I forgot where i saw it, but it was back when an island was merely dirt that rested on the ocean floor and was above water at high tide. Any dirt, any shape, any way the dirt got there. The definition got more complicated, like everything else has.

    I did see, in legal papers, Louisiana has said once you own land, and have the title, that land is your’s until it’s taken by the government, sold by you, or underwater. Consequently, on some sinking Mississippi delta land, a guy took a lesson from the Netherlands and put dikes around his property, keeping it dry as all the land around is now underwater. Technically his place is an island, as it is dry, but it’s as below water level as half of New Orleans is, and he has no roads, powerco lines, etc.. I do not know what became of him. I doubt he survived Katrina.

    Profile photo of i_is_j_smith

    I’ve been working on this question a lot: is there even such a thing as “artificial natural land”?  There is very little, if any, legal precedent regarding this issue.  Mostly what I can determine is that UNCLOS considers anything manmade as “artificial”.  So if you dump a bunch of boulders on a seamount, dredge a bunch of sand onto a sandbar, or build a condeep structure…those are all “artificial islands” in regards to UNCLOS, which means no territorial waters or sovereignty.


    This is generally considered different from artificial efforts to prevent the loss of existing territorial land or waters.  So, for instance, building an artificial island 30km from your shore in the attempt to extend your territorial waters or EEZ is generally condemned and prevented.  However, constantly working to prevent a small islet from being worn down by erosion by constantly adding new materials is permissible, because you are preventing the loss of existing territory.  A great read is “Artificial Islands and Structures as a Means of Safeguarding State Sovereignty Against Sea Level Rise”:

    Upgrading the status of a rock and preventing its diminution follow a totally different mindset. While prevention is considered to be permissible, as it is an action that does not intent to expand land and maritime sovereignty, upgrading is an act that is being condemned as abusive and expansionist. In most cases, it is really hard to distinguish which of the two practices take place, as well as to find liable scientific data in order to support one or the other position. The case of Okinotorishima is highly illustrative of the controversies that can stem up by this category.

    The Okinotorishima case they refer to is a dispute between China and Japan over some small islets in the Philippine Sea.  China claims they are rocks, which under UNCLOS would not allow Japan to use them to extend its EEZ.  Japan claims they are islands and has spent a considerable amount of money and effort and materials to keep them above water.  So are they rocks?  Are they islands?  Are they “artificial islands” because of all the manmade structures and materials that have been added?  Again, it would seem that since Japan is working to prevent the loss of territory it already claimed then the judgement is in its favor.  If it were building up an area that was never above water in the first place, in an effort to artificially claim more territory, it would be the opposite.  Since this is what we plan with establishing an “artificial natural land” seastead we can only envision the same type of judgement.


    However all hope is not lost.  A great resource for these issues is “The International Legal Regime of Artifical Islands” by Nikos Papadakis.  In it he talks a lot about the legal status of artificial islands, and makes a distinction between “artificial structures, platforms, and floating or fixed installations in general” and what he calls “Sea-Cities…artificial islands erected and used for urban purposes”.

    In terms of legal status, the paramount feature of a Sea-City is that it must have a territorial sea in the same way that a natural island has one…It is further submitted that the following considerations have to be taken into account in attributing the legal status of a Sea-City to an artificial island.  First, the artificial island in question must essentially be an island in the same sense that a natural island is an island; that means that is must (a) be ‘surrounded by water’, and (b) show permanently above water at high tide.  Secondly, in so far as it is an artificial island, as opposed to a natural one, it must, nevertheless, be ‘of the nature of territory’.  This last qualification is not intended to mean that the artificial island must literally be a ‘portion of territory’ or a ‘true tract of land’, as a natural island is, but that it must have the essential characteristics of a portion of territory.  Its capability of being subjected to the sovereignty of a State as ‘territory’, and a degree of permanence similar to that possessed by a natural island appear to be the essential characteristics required…….Finally, the foremost criterion is that the artificial island in question must be inhabited and, for all practical purposes, form a self-sufficient community….It would thus appear that this criterion is satisfied only by an artificial island erected, and in fact used, for urban purposes, that is a Sea-City.

    His major proposal is that a Sea-City requires a territorial sea, rather than the safety zone granted to artificial islands and installations by UNCLOS.

    The rationale behind this proposal becomes clear if it is considered why a coastal State extends its sovereignty outside the limits of its land territory over a sea-belt around its coast.  The reasons for the establishment of a territorial sea zone have been stated aptly as follows:

    “The reasons which justify the extension of the sovereignty of a State outside the limits of its land territory are always the same.  They may be summarized under the following heads:
    (i) the security of the State demands that it should have exclusive possession of its shores and that it should be able to protect its approaches;
    (ii) for the purpose of furthering its commercial, fiscal and political interests, a State must be able to supervise all ships entering, leaving or anchoring in its territorial waters;
    (iii) the exclusive exploitation and enjoyment of the products of the sea within a State’s territorial waters is necessary for the existence and welfare of the people on its coasts. Hall upholds the necessity of the maritime belt on the ground that unless the right to exercise control were admitted, no sufficient security would exist for the lives and property of the subjects of the State upon land”.

    It is only too clear that these reasons hold true for the projected Sea-Cities.  The security, economic, fiscal, political and other interests of the population of the Sea-City have to be protected in the same way that the interests of any other population living on a naturally formed land are protected according to the principles sanctioned by international law.  It should make no difference in law the formation of ‘land’ upon which a population is living.  The paramount feature is the protection of the interests and welfare of the people, and the establishment of a mere safety zone around a Sea-City, however extensive, is not sufficient to safeguard the interests of the local population.

    So we shouldn’t be overly concerned with the materials or methods we use to create our seastead.  Whether we pile up garbage on a seamount or build a tower attached to the sea floor, it’s not the form that matters.  What matters is that:


    1) The seastead be built up from the seafloor, either resting on permanent supports or built up directly using aggregated materials.  A floating seastead, even one permanently moored, would have a more difficult time pretending to be “territory”.


    2) The seastead be very large and have a very large, permanent population as well as the infrastructure required to support that population in a highly self-sufficient manner.


    So I would go with whatever method allowed for both those criteria, regardless of whether you are using “natural land” or just concrete supports.  But, as Papadakis writes:

    It is true that this is not a principle of lex lata.  The problem of the Sea-City has not been faced yet in a practical way and probably it will not have to be faced for quite a number of years to come.

    Profile photo of i_is_j_smith

    Ugh, garbage WordPress.  Sorry, all my indentations and formatting weren’t carried over when I clicked submit.  Much of my post was taken from the books, and were indented as quotes.  Sorry if it’s hard to follow.  And you can’t edit or delete a post, even right after you submit it.


    POS forum software…

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