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Law of the sea and maritime law

Under international law, Australia has rights and responsibilities in relation to its adjacent waters, which are divided into maritime zones. The main international agreement outlining these rights and responsibilities is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS. UNCLOS defines the following maritime zones:

  • territorial sea
  • contiguous zone
  • exclusive economic zone
  • continental shelf.

For more information on Australia’s maritime zones, visit the Geoscience Australia website.

The Commonwealth, the states and the Northern Territory have also come to an arrangement, called the 'Offshore Constitutional Settlement', in respect of Commonwealth, State and Northern Territory jurisdiction in the waters to the edge of the territorial sea. 

For more information, visit the Offshore Constitutional Settlement page.