Tuesday, October 15, 2013


THE OTHER COMMONS:   To read the entire series so far in order of occurrence click here:    http://americanadmiraltybooks2.blogspot.com/p/the-enduring-principals-of-maritime.html

 File:Berner Iustitia.jpg  THE OTHER COMMONS INCLUDE :



 Somewhat related to the law of territory is the regulation of the electromagnetic spectrum. Each state closely regulates radio, radar, telecommunications, and other uses of the electromagnetic spectrum. However without cooperation between states one state's emissions would interfere with those of other nations to the point of electromagnetic anarchy. Realization of this fact has led to extensive, detailed, comprehensive and effective international regulation. This is particularly true in the case of radio transmissions. The various radio and telecommunications conventions are among the most universally and strictly observed of international laws. The utility of radio and telecommunications is totally dependent on this adherence. Every nation is dependent upon the cooperation of other nations in this regard. In the case of radio and telecommunications, states have sacrificed some of their sovereignty for the sake of order.

 Most states maintain strict control over all transceivers within their borders. In the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) nations and elsewhere where forces of various nations have facilities there are usually radio -telecommunications agreements as part of t he basic agreement. In nations without such arrangements, ship commanders should insure that special arrangements have been made before operating transceivers. It behooves the communications officer and the senior radioman to know the rules in each nation visited.

 Today the concerns of the commons of the electromagnetic spectrum are expanding into areas that might seem a mixed spectrum such as cyber space and the newly evolving concerns of acoustic space. There are few international or even national regulations for guidance yet in these areas. Cyber space is electromagnetic in nature. It exists across the radio spectrum that allows for computer to computer communications across vast distances including across national borders. There is a constant concern for "band width" in this area which limits the amount and speed of communications between computers. But cyber space also exists within computers fixed memories and storage devices and these can be reached by outside devices against the wills of the computer owners. Electronically stored information and operating instructions can be sabotaged from without. The law of nations is just starting to struggle with this concern.

 The Acoustic realm begins in the electromagnetic realm with electronic transceivers that generate, receive, and interpret information that flows from the the generation of acoustic signals (sound) under water. When we began this technology we were not entirely aware that other species were already using the submarine acoustic environment to transmit and receive information, or that our use would interfere with their use and even interfere with our ability to exploit commercially some of the species that we use for food. There is concern about this split spectrum but little in the way of law. Navies around the world are becoming aware and limiting their sonar use especially around known whale grounds. Oil companies don't appear to be in concerned as yet , certainly not enough to limit or reduce their use of sonic equipment in the search for oil and gas reserves in the maritime environment. Oceanographic research is suffering somewhat both the awareness that we are disturbing the necessary communications and possibly the individual physicality of creatures from fish to marine mammals that use acoustic communications. Many scientific research vessels now self limit the use of acoustic sensing. In one instance this is not good. NOAA ships and others now often turn all manner of underwater sensors off when in the Exclusive Economic Zones of nations where there is not a formal agreement in place for oceanographic research. many nations now view oceanographic research, not long ago a corner stone right associated with freedom of the seas as a probable cover for oil and gas research, to give economic advantage to who ever is paying for the research. Consequently many vessels engaged in pure scientific research of potential benefit to the human race now turn their sensors off when entering anyone's EEZ. Keep in mind that the EEZs can be as wide as 200 miles from the coast line. In a place like the Gulf of Mexico there is very little of the "High Seas" that is not in someone's EEZ. Remember that the EEZ only confers limited exclusive economic rights to the adjacent coastal state, not sovereignty these are still the High Seas but now it is dangerous to assert one of the most important rights included in the concept of "Freedom of the Seas", a concept that thousands of English speaking sailors died for over the course of the last 400 years.


 The atmosphere, as opposed to the air space over a territory is in the commons. The atmosphere provides the common breath for all life and, as a moving mass, respects no borders. One common concern of all nations relative to the atmosphere is weather prediction. 


 Weather observations and their dissemination can be a territory sensitive issue,but rarely so. All nations have a strong and mutual interest in the study and reporting of weather. International order is facilitated in this area by a specialized United Nations organization called the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Most states are members of the WMO. There has never been a major dispute between WMO member states over the process of weather observation and reporting.  Bridge team officers and ratings need rarely fear that taking weather observations will be viewed with suspicion in foreign ports with the exception of North Korea where the fact that there are other people on the planet is viewed e with suspicion. However, radio communication of such information, like all radio transmissions, must be in accordance with the regulations of the host state.

To Be continued; Next THE HIGH SEAS DEFINED

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