The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting today about a new venture aiming to create a community 12 nautical miles off the coast of California. The community would include barges and towers and is billed as "Burning Man Meets Silicon Valley Meets the Water." Of course, the maritime wonk in me has some questions. Presumably, they chose 12 nautical miles to get outside the U.S. territorial sea. Does that mean they intend to flag their vessels with a different country? If so, they should be mindful that they are still in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone and the U.S. can regulate (read: prohibit) activities affecting U.S. economic resources there (read: fishing). If they choose NO country, they should be mindful of the status of stateless vessels under the Law of the Sea (read: anyone can regulate stateless vessels). If the vessels are intended to be documented in the U.S. and carry passengers for hire, then they must be built or rebuilt in the U.S. and crewed by American citizens. Affixing towers to the continental shelf probably requires federal permission. Interesting idea. Ideas are what make America great. Having navigated several ships in that area, my first concern was one of practicality. Big waves make for interesting living conditions.
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