High Seas Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of High Seas, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is High Seas?

Ocean territory that is outside of any one country’s jurisdiction and is open to peaceful purposes.

History and Meaning of High Seas

The high seas is a term that describes a particular area of the ocean that is beyond the jurisdiction of any one country. The high seas have been recognized and regulated by international law for centuries. The principle of freedom of the high seas has its roots in the 17th century when Hugo Grotius first formulated the idea that the sea should be free from the control of any one nation.

This idea was later codified in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which was adopted in 1982. The convention recognized the high seas as a common heritage of mankind and established rules for the use and exploitation of these areas.

Examples of High Seas

  1. A group of researchers sail into the open ocean to study marine life beyond any country's jurisdiction.
  2. A cruise ship crosses the international date line while traveling from Japan to Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean.
  3. A fishing vessel navigates into waters that are outside of any Exclusive Economic Zone to catch tuna.

Legal Terms Similar to High Seas

  1. Territorial Waters - The area of water around a country's coastline that is within its jurisdiction.
  2. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) - An area extending 200 nautical miles from a country's baseline in which it has special rights to explore, exploit, and manage the natural resources within that area.
  3. Continental Shelf - The seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas that extend beyond a country's Exclusive Economic Zone.