Most of the times the different wordings are used for the same thing. Law of the Sea is the convention from 1982. One of the subjects it discusses are the boundaries of the coastal state
but there are 300 articles with all kind of subjects. Environmental issues, passage through straits, legislation of a ship all belongs to this Law of the Sea.
In the footer you can find the direct link to the Law of the Sea.
Admiralty law or Maritime Law has a much longer history and has its origin in England and USA. In older times Admiralty law discusses categories like charters, cargo, personal injuries and piracy.
12 mile zone / 200 mile zone
In principle the first 12 miles belongs to the state and their legislation system.
The first 200 miles belongs to the state for economical resources. Now every government want all the resources around them and start to claim islands, rocks, historical waters etcetera. Economical reasons as resources like Oil and Gas are worth to fight for. But also arguments like fishing grounds are used.
On this website we will not look at this particular convention called Law of the Sea, but to the separate conventions of IMO and ILO. I just want to make sure that you understand that the
law might be more complex than the conventions this website will talk about.
Legislation by flag states
The flag of a ship determines the legislation on that ship. When a ship sails in the coastal waters of her flag state then she only has to fulfil the legislation of her flag state. As soon as the voyage becomes international, the ship’s national legislation will be extended with the international accepted conventions like SOLAS, MARPOL, STCW, LOADLINE and more.
These international conventions were organised by the IMO (International Maritime Organization). IN 1948 the IMO was installed. Nowadays almost all flag states are member of the IMO. After a convention the IMO is looking after the ratification of the convention by enough members. A member who ratify a convention, will have to adopt this in her national legislation system.
A convention will become international legislation after a certain amount of members have ratified the convention. Measurements for this are a certain amount of flag states and / or a certain amount of flag states who represent a certain amount of gross tonnage.
As soon as a convention is in force, all ships in international waters and ports has to fulfill the main principles of this convention. Even if their flag state didn’t ratify this convention. The Port State officers, which are the quality control of the IMO, can stop any ship which enters an international port and doesn’t fullfil the main requirements of the accepted conventions.
example Marpol VI
Let’s look at an example. Ship Q is registered in country A, so the flag state is A. So all the laws of this flag state A applies to the ship Q. Let’s assume that this member A of the IMO did not ratify the MARPOL annex VI convention. This means that in national waters the ship does not have to comply with MARPOL annex VI but solely what is written in the legislation of the Administration A.
However as soon as the ship set sail to outside of the national waters then it has to comply with main principles of MARPOL annex VI.
In the port of Port State B a port state officer can visit the vessel and check the main principles of MARPOL annex VI. If the ship uses fuel with a high content of Sulphur it still can be stopped
by the port state officer. And in port state C the ship might even has to comply with the more strict regulations of that port or region, because of the environmental rules of that particular port.
These additional rules in some ports can only apply to MARPOL ( so not e.g.Solas or Loadline), as this affects the area around the vessel, which belongs not to the flag A of that
vessel but to the rules and regulations of that particular flag state C or Region.