Proper control in contiguous zone: what can Estonia do with Russian ships?
- According to the media, Estonia is going to expand its contiguous zone in the Baltic Sea.
Indeed, each coastal state has the right to establish the breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical miles and can inspect ships there if it suspects any violation of the legislation in the territorial waters.
Article 33 of the UN Convention on the Law Of the Sea, 1982 reads that in a zone contiguous to its territorial sea, described as the contiguous zone, the coastal State may exercise the control necessary to:
(a) prevent infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations within its territory or territorial sea;
(b) punish infringement of the above laws and regulations committed within its territory or territorial sea.
Thus, vessels not entering the territorial sea of Estonia are not to be detained by the state authorities in the contiguous zone. In other words, that will hardly affect the transit shipping to and from Russia but can potentially lead to incidents and disputable situations.