Crimes at the sea

Majority of the people on earth live on land, while a few people spend some time at sea and an even fewer people are spending their time in space and space stations. Almost 71% of the earth is water. The people on land follow the specific country’s laws and regulations. This leads to the question about what happens when we are in no specific country. Which country’s rule will apply on those places which do not come under any country. In order to settle the disputes and crimes that happen on water, maritime law was created. 

Maritime law is the private law specific to the respective countries that mainly deals with carrying goods through the sea, protecting and maintaining ships, marine insurance etc.

The law of the sea is one body of international law that overlooks the rights and duties of states in maritime environments. It concerns matters such as navigational rights, sea mineral claims, and coastal waters jurisdiction.

Here are a list of crimes that go unnoticed because the maritime laws are not that stringent. 

  • Resource exploitation: There is a series on Netflix called “Seaspiracy” that discuss how illegal fishing and various other crimes are still prevalent and happening because they are backed by big corporates who only look at the maximisation of profits. There is a breeding time for fish when there should be no fishing. Also there should be a limit to fishing because if all the fish are caught in the net, then there would not be enough fish to mate and reproduce. The local fishermen are aware of these and fish cautiously. But corporate ships that work for huge fisheries continue to fish without concern about the future. 
  • Water Pollution: Huge oil spills cause the tragic deaths of many sea creatures every year. While most of these may be accidental and unintentional, some people use these oil spills to get rid of the oil that need to be disposed. The excess waste from land is also dumped into the sea due to which many sea animals and fish are suffering. Almost 8 milllion tons of plastic are dumped into the sea every year. Atleast a million sea birds are killed because they ingest these plastic waste and it suffocates their stomachs.
  • Murder: Nearly 2000 people worldwide die at the sea every year. Most of these are missing cases but there may also be cases of murder at sea but they are not covered because sea police do not get as many financial resources and benefits as land police. There cannot be proper investigations because the evidences may get destroyed and the bodies are usually lost at sea.
  • Labour issues: Some countries have a minimum wage for labour while some other countries have no specific labour wages. Hence, the cost of operation of ships that are registered in countries that have a minimum labour wage will be higher than those ships which do not have minimum wage. Thus, many ships will register in the countries with lower wages. This will affect the quality of labour as competition for labour increases highly.
  • Abduction: Many poor children and adults who live in poor conditions are kidnapped and forced to work in gruesome conditions. The police system may be rigged and the children or adults who were abducted are not heard of again.
  • Piracy: Piracy rate at Nicaragua is at 78% and it stands at 70% in India and Malaysia. There are laws and enforcement organisations that work to prevent these crimes but since the ocean is very vast, it takes a lot of effort.
  • Avoiding debts: Many ship owners may be heavily in debt and may have to face heavy consequences when they reach their home country. However, they refuel at illegal ports and stay at sea to avoid the debts.
  • Air Pollution: Like all other vehicles, ships emit carbon dioxide which is a main cause of global warming. They contribute to more than 18% of the air pollutants.

Maritime law and sea laws can become complex because it is very difficult, dangerous and expensive to implement the laws properly. If a region of the sea area is covered by many countries then jurisdiction may also be up for debate. International waters come under the ambit of the United Nations and there should be stricter laws and stringent measures to curb all of the crimes that occur at sea.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

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