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What laws apply when you get into deep water?

Maritime law is one of those things you don't hear a lot about, and some people can go their entire lives without needing to know about it. But anyone who goes out on the water, even for just a short pleasure cruise, should know what laws apply if something goes wrong.

There are separate laws that govern the land and sea. Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, governs any matters involving crimes that occur on open water, and it is ruled by a separate set of code than that which presides over land.

Here are a few quick facts to keep in mind regarding maritime law:

· U.S. maritime law is enforced by the Coast Guard.

· While there is a distinction between the laws of the land and sea, federal laws and treaties continue to be enforced while in the jurisdiction of the United States coastline.

· Maritime laws preside over and apply to any civil matter between any ship owners or sometimes even passengers.

· So where does U.S. maritime law end and international law begin? According to the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea, once you are 12 miles from a coastal state you are generally subject to international maritime law, with a few exceptions in the contiguous zone, up to 24 miles from the coastline.

· Once on the high seas (around 24 miles from the coastline of a country) you are under the jurisdiction of the country's flag you fly (the vessel's homeport).

Maritime law is an extremely specialized area of the law, and attorneys that practice maritime law deal specifically with the laws of the sea.

While it is rare to hear about, maritime law is an extremely important area of the law to be informed about, particularly if you live in a coastal state.

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