One of our favored business models has been the CoastStead – a business park operating 12nm offshore, just outside territorial waters. Being able to draw from the economy of a first-world country makes it much easier to make money and finance a seastead.
However, our recent legal research has determined that this model may not work with existing international law. While a ship is under the flag jurisdiction beyond 12nm, artificial installations are regulated by the coastal state throughout the EEZ (200nm or more). The relevant definition seems to be:
“Artificial islands and installations are man-made, surrounded by water from all sides, above water at high tide, supposed to stay at a specific geographical location for a certain span of time, and stationary in their normal mode of operation at sea.” [Fitzpatrick1998]
So any CoastStead – even an anchored ship – which is designed to stay in one place, or operate while stationary, would meet this definition. This suggests that initial seasteads must either be mobile, or be located more than 200nm from land. Spar platforms can be made mobile, but they will have increased fuel costs and be slow to move, so it will be harder to use them for mobile operations. So uf we want to start with near-shore operations as our first incremental step, ships and mobile single-family seasteads now appear more attractive, while spar platforms may have to wait until we are ready to leave the EEZ.
While this is unfortunate, we’re glad to be learning more about international law so we can craft accurate recommendations, and we thank legal volunteer Jorge Schmidt for his contributions.