Frank Pope
Times Online
December 10, 2009

The 400-year-old freedom of the high seas would be lost under United Nations plans to limit environmental damage.

Military forces of several nations are in discussions with conservationists over pooling surveillance resources to enforce the changes.

The “freedom of the seas” has given mariners legal rights to roam the high seas — a boundary that usually occurs 200 nautical miles from shore — at will. Specialists gathered at a London conference are saying that fishermen have been pushing the concept too far.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea came into force in 1983 and enshrined the 17th-century concept of the freedom of the seas. But while being on the high seas puts ships outside the jurisdiction of any one country, the small print of the law dictates that nations ensure that no undue damage is caused.

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