Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Recently, after several decades of negotiations, the United States, acting through the President, opted not to sign the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty. In the aftermath of this decision those individuals involved with marine affairs are beginning to examine the Treaty's separate provisions to ascertain those which the U.S. may embrace under the auspices of customary international law. To date, this examination has led to a Presidential Proclamation generating an Exclusive Economic Zone for the U.S. Jurisdictionally, the next logical step would be U.S. adoption of the 12 nautical mile limit for its territorial sea. Indeed, movement in this direction has already begun. In proclaiming an EEZ for the United States the President, for the first time in U.S. history, indicated that this Nation would recognize international claims to a territorial sea in excess of 3 nautical miles to a maximum of 12. In light of these developments, this thesis examines the history of the U.S.territorial sea and Federal-State jurisdictional conflicts therein. This examination is made to determine whether, in this regard, the past will be prologue to the future.The central focus of this study then is the domestic impacts likely to emanate from U.S. adoption of a 12 nautical mile territorial sea. Further, this study presents several potential jurisdictional divisions of an expanded territorial sea as between the coastal States and Federal government, including one option incorporating the current impetus to create an Outer Continental Shelf revenue sharing trust fund for these States. The resolution of this potential U.S.dilemma will be generated through political negotiation and the intent of this thesis is to clarify the issue and alternative solutions prior to this debate.