Augsut 2017 on the Great Barrier Reef

Captains Word is Law
Captain Trevor Jackson

Running a live aboard dive vessel like Spoilsport takes some major organisation. After all it is effectively a tiny city sitting way out in the ocean on its own. It needs its own water supply, its own power, even its own government……yes, its own government. The reefs we visit; well they aren’t exactly in Australia. In fact, they aren’t exactly in any country. It’s a bit of a grey zone. And it’s difficult to ever really clear it up. All I know is that Osprey, Holmes, Flinders and Bougainville Reefs all lie within what they call the EEZ……. or Exclusive Economic Zone.

Basically, this means that only Australian ships can carry out commercial activities within the zone, which extends to 200 miles from the coast. However, it doesn’t mean that the zone is considered part of Australia. A foreign ship may traverse the area without bothering with ‘customs’; they just can’t start drilling for oil or fishing for tuna. Most countries follow the same 200 mile EEZ plan. But occasionally when we are out there, I get to wondering “What laws are we bound by?”. Occasionally people mention “The Law of the Sea’. But here’s the truth – the “Law of the Sea” only exists in action novels.

Some people might also argue that “The Captains word is the law”. That can be true to an extent. In certain situations, Ships Captains wield an ungainly amount of power, but they are always answerable to a higher authority. The reality is that we are bound by the laws of the State in which the vessel is registered. Which pretty much means that Spoilsport is a little piece of Queensland, floating out there in the blue yonder. It then follows, I guess, that the Captain would be….the State Premier!! Woohoo! I’ve been promoted. But hang on, that also means I can get voted out. Mmm I think I liked the “Captains word is law” thing better.

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