Forum Replies Created
March 14, 2013 at 2:50 pm #21828
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.March 12, 2013 at 10:39 pm #21822
This is a very interesting idea. It kinda fits under my “Viva la revolution!” post from several years back (http://www.seasteading.org/forum-list/topic/viva-la-revolution/).
The idea is you don’t use this land-based nation as your actual seastead. It is just a seastead incubator. You create your land-based nation, and then you use it as a flag registry for all your seasteads.
It’s pretty much accepted that any floating seasteads will need to fly a flag of convenience, the the goal has been to find a flag registry country that will allow as much freedom as possible on the flagged seastead. Well, what more freedom can we get than from a country which is founded with the sole purpose of providing a flag of convenience to seasteads that allow them to do whatever they want?
My plan called for the violent takeover of an existing nation (which I still think is the better plan) but I definitely agree that a peaceful purchase or political takeover would be a viable option.
This is pretty awesome too because the Falkland Islands already has it’s own Registrar of Ships! While it looks limited to only small ships, I’m sure a seastead-minded Governor could make whatever changes they wanted…
Unfortunately it seems 1515 of the 1650 registered voters want to stay British:
So while we could get another referendum on the docket, and we could get 1600 or so seasteaders to move there and take over, it might be pretty messy if everyone else there doesn’t want to switch. It would be much better if there was a more balanced amount of the population that preferred independence, although I’m sure a slick PR campaign could sway many to our side if we really tried…
Kudos on a good idea, though. Never even thought about the Falklands for this project…March 12, 2013 at 10:20 pm #21818
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?March 12, 2013 at 9:59 pm #21816
I have serious doubts that you’ll be able to grow anything topsides. The salt air and spray is going to cause all manner of problems, plus it’s a very inefficient use of space. Aeroponics is going to be the only way to grow sufficient amounts of food plants for a decent-sized seastead community.
There are newer vertical aeroponic systems that can grow over a hundred medium-sized plants in a 4′x4′ area. Grow rates are enormous when you are controlling the lighting and nutrient flow. Water use is a tiny fraction of what you use in conventional farming. 5 gallons every other day! Try 5 gallons and that’s it…forever recycled for over 100 plants!
Leave the roof for ornamental stuff and grow your food in highly-controlled closed environments belowdecks.March 12, 2013 at 9:43 pm #21815
These two sites have plenty of information on the space and welfare requirements for various farm livestock:
The problem with any kind of terrestrial animal on a seastead will be space requirements. You are usually looking at around 10-20 broiler chickens per m^2 and around 2-3 100kg pigs per 2m^2 depending on size. You get fewer animals per a given space for “organic” ones, higher for us heathens who like more meat and care less about the animals’s feelings.
You won’t have to worry about setting aside space topside, nearly all industrial livestock farming is done completely indoors so you won’t have to worry about salt spray, animals going overboard, etc. Just set aside enough internal hull space for the number of animals you need to grow.
As for docking, there are actually only a few countries that require you to worry about animals that will remain on the vessel. They care more about animals that are going ashore. Hawaii is a total pain, requiring you to quarantine the animals ashore even if you had no plans of taking them off the boat. But plenty of countries don’t care about the animals as long as they remain on board (and sometimes require you to post a small bond). This page has some examples:
<A href=”http://books.google.com/books?id=CjIg5FgUUW8C&pg=PA17&lpg=PA17&dq=boat+docking+animal+quarantine&source=bl&ots=77x3pNtCGj&sig=Fy-UC0b52eG56jtR1oZykwNY4a8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Cv8_UePSFtXi4AOLmYCAAg&sqi=2&ved=0CD4Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=boat%20docking%20animal%20quarantine&f=false”>Landfalls of paradise</A>
So as long as you keep your farm animals onboard, and hopefully belowdecks, you shouldn’t have any issues in many ports around the world.January 11, 2013 at 11:49 am #21645
It means we can’t harvest fish, plant or harvest a crop,
Only if those resources come from the waters in the EEZ. There is no rule about planting crops in soil sitting ON the seastead, or farming fish in pools located ON the seastead. You simply cannot exploit “the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and its subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds;”
So if your seastead is free floating and designated a vessel, not permanently attached to the sea floor, and able to supply all of its food needs by harvesting resources grown solely ONBOARD the seastead itself, while producing energy from solar systems, and able to dispose of all waste products onboard without dumping them overboard, then you could be in an existing nation’s EEZ without concern.
This leaves the question of what venues of lobby or petition might be pursued for added protections under international law for the rights of seasteaders to the free and unfettered use of the world’s oceans and it’s resources,
We have “free and unfettered use of the world’s oceans and it’s resources”…just not in any existing nation’s EEZ. That still leaves a hell of a lot of water for us to use…
as well as to establish recognition of their rights to maintain sovereign states and to define territory at sea,
It’s not going to happen. As I said above, the existing nations have a vested interest in not allowing floating habitats (or any other kind of habitat) to have any claim over the high seas such as those existing nations enjoy.
The recognition will have to come slowly. Once you have a massive seastead housing a few tens of thousands of people, growing your own food and manufacturing your own goods, building an infrastructure, you can begin to engage other nations in diplomacy or trade. But you need to get to that stage first before you can start worrying about those kinds of issues…January 11, 2013 at 11:48 am #21644
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions
I am now left to wonder how these modern provisions of admiralty law impact the concept of the seastead in statehood…maintaining a defined territory…
I don’t believe a permanent seastead will gain statehood until it has grown to sufficient size and had enough impact on the global stage to gain some political leeway. Palestine cannot even get statehood recognition, and it has land. I believe statehood is possible, but not for a long time. The bottleneck will always be the territory issue…and if I cannot be convinced that a floating cement block in the ocean is territory then you most certainly won’t convince existing nations.
is it safe to say that under present standards of international law, a seastead cannot lawfully define a territory in it’s own plenary capacity, and thus, cannot qualify for recognition under such articles as make provisions for statehood?
Is it safe to assume, then, that the present standards of international law are unprepared to recognize a seastead as a sovereign state,
Yes. This is, in my opinion, by design. If you could build a floating block of cement and call it a state, thus granting it territorial waters and an EEZ, then you would have existing nations simply building “seasteads” everywhere to expand their territorial waters and EEZs. All the US would have to do is drop a string of these and pretty soon their EEZ is extending out 400nm from their shores.
I would say that the existing nations have a vested interest in NOT allowing seasteads to be recognized as “states” for this reason.January 11, 2013 at 11:46 am #21643
No captain in the right mind, of any vessel, man o’war or merchant will dare tell a 200′ seastead captain with lets say 60 crew abourd,…”You can’t fish 150 miles offshore”.
Unless that vessel is the 127m USCGC Bertholf. Good luck with your 60 hungry seasteaders against that…
But who would want to hang out inside the EEZ of any nation for long??? There are at least 10 banks and/or submerged reefs in international waters that a seastead can drop the hook on and hang out there, no problem whatsoever.
I agree. True seasteading will not work in an EEZ. You need to be on the high seas, and there are plenty of shallow-ish places where that can happen.January 11, 2013 at 11:45 am #21642
What guarantee and security did the Pilgrims have at the time of landing?
None, but you cannot compare the global geopolitical landscape of 2012 with the 1600s.
Also, do you know what happened to the first group of Pilgrims? Do you want that to be the fate of your seastead?
We live in a different time. The entire face of the globe is populated, teeming with people. There are no more frontiers.
Seasteding comes with consequences too.
Yes, but if you want your seastead to become more than just a slab of concrete floating in the ocean with a 4-person tent on it you are going to need to convince people to become part of your experiment…as well as their money. And people are not going to be willing to be a part of your experiment, or give you their money, if your pitch to them is “you might all drown, but hey, that’s life right?”
gray area of laws
The problem with that is, it works both ways. When a U.S. warship comes alongside your seastead and demands you come with them for being pirates, that grey area of the laws won’t look as promising.
And may be forge something new
If there is anything the status quo hates, it’s something new. Your best bet is to work within the system as much as possible, using existing precedent.January 11, 2013 at 11:44 am #21641
That’s why the first seasteads should be mobile artificial floating islands. Then, forget about the EEZ bullshit. You are a vessel now and you have the right of passage over any EEZ whenever you want. Keep in mind that the EEZ are in the international waters. And yes, a population can exist on this floating seasteads and enjoy whatever degree of freedom they choose,…why not?
Because while you have the full right to sail within another nation’s EEZ you CANNOT collect resources. The EEZ are not international waters. From Part VII Article 86 regarding the High Seas:
The provisions of this Part apply to all parts of the sea that are not included in the exclusive economic zone, in the territorial sea or in the internal waters of a State…
So the EEZ is not considered “international waters” although, according to Part V Article 58 you have “the freedoms referred to in article 87 of navigation and overflight and of the laying of submarine cables and pipelines, and other internationally lawful uses of the sea related to these freedoms, such as those associated with the operation of ships, aircraft and submarine cables and pipelines”
So you are free to sail through an existing nation’s EEZ. Just don’t fish in it…January 11, 2013 at 10:20 am #21640
Right now I’m using Firefox 22.214.171.124 on WinNT4
Respect….January 9, 2013 at 9:44 am #21623
is Sealand entitled…to maintain it’s own EEZ?
Sealand is not entitled to an EEZ under UNCLOS for the following reasons:
1) It is not a State.
2) It is technically an artificial island, and islands have their own rules under Part VIII Article 121 which says “Rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.” It also says under Part 5 Article 60 that “Artificial islands, installations and structures do not possess the status of islands. They have no territorial sea of their own, and their presence does not affect the delimitation of the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone or the continental shelf.”
How would this impact the UK’s claimed EEZ?
Part II Article 15 deals with how States that are close to one another determine their territorial waters. Part V Article 74 (Delimitation of the exclusive economic zone between States with opposite or adjacent coasts) does the same for EEZs. Basically the two States have to work something out.
If Sealand expands it’s topside footprint, would it’s EEZ extend 200nm from it’s new boundaries, or previous ones? For that matter, does the accretion and erosion of soil presumably affect the footprint of a dirtside nation’s EEZ? If a nation loses a half mile of coastline due to storm erosion, does it lose a half-mile of it’s EEZ?
Part II Articles 5,6 and 7 discuss establishing the baseline from which the territorial waters and thus the EEZ are calculated. As the low-water line shifts then the boundary of the territorial waters and EEZ shift. If you lose a half-mile of coastline then your territorial waters border would shrink as well. But then Article 14 says “The coastal State may determine baselines in turn by any of the methods provided for in the foregoing articles to suit different conditions.” so the State has a great amount of leeway in determining the baseline.
For instance, Article 7 has a provision that “In localities where the coastline is deeply indented and cut into…the method of straight baselines joining appropriate points may be employed in drawing the baseline from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.” So if a big storm washes away a chunk of your coastline you can just draw a straight baseline across that indent and use that to determine borders, thus your territorial waters and EEZ are not impacted by the loss of coastline.December 20, 2011 at 5:05 pm #16886
I’d stay away from suction piles. They are very expensive to install, considering their size and high technical skill required to install. They require an ROV for install so that adds a lot to the cost.
You’re much better off looking at drag anchors, more specifically near-normal load vertical load anchors (NNLA), which work very well in sandy locations. They are relatively inexpensive and are much easier to install. Something like the Bruce Dennla MK4 or MK3.December 20, 2011 at 4:16 pm #16884
U.S. Geological Survey homepage has their usSEABED data online
You can use that viewer or download the raw GIS data.
The West Coast sediment viewer also has more info, you can check ganule sizes and batymetric contours:
It would help if you had a specific location in mind…or are you still looking for a suitable one?
If it’s the area I’m thinking of, around 37deg 28′ N 122deg43′W (22km west of Half Moon Bay), the bottom looks like a muddy sand mixture, very low on rocks or shells. If you move around 10km to the NW you start to lose the mud and get a much higher sand content with some shell material mixed in and even a bit of phosphorite rock. You’re looking at around 80m depth so mooring shouldn’t be too difficult or expensive.
As for currents, waves, and water temp there are plenty of links on the forums for metaocean analysis tools…December 19, 2011 at 8:46 pm #16879Elwar wrote:
Sounds like a commune to me.
Sure, I guess that’s one way to describe it.Elwar wrote:
I would certainly be willing to pay someone for the level of effort and use that they provide and then offer a suitable living space in exchange for a fair price.
That is certainly an option. If you have a method for generating your own funds, or are wealthy, you can opt to pay to live on the seastead (rent, taxes, etc) and pay for the goods you require. I’m merely offering a chance to people who might not have the funds but would be willing to work for their “passage”.Elwar wrote:
But to have everyone paid the same for varying levels and difficulty of work is a non-starter.