The Law: Shrinking the Oceans

The dominion of the land ends where the power of its arms ends.

—Dutch Jurist Cornelius van Bynkershoek, 1703

What was good enough for Jurist Bynkershoek was long good enough for nations and legal scholars. In 1793, the U.S. formally declared a territorial limit of three miles, or as far as a cannon of those days could shoot. Most coastal countries still claim sovereignty over only the merest slivers of sea off their shores, usually three miles (claimed by 25 countries) or twelve miles (claimed by 44). But now a high-seas war of sorts is...

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