Bookmark this site, as we will frequently update the dataset with new digital limits of the maritime zones. Official limits are superseded by the publication of a new chart edition.
Date Updated: 9/13/2013
For specific information about recent updates and an archived list of past updates, visit our announcements page.
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General Information about U.S. Maritime Limits and Boundaries (top)
NOAA is responsible for depicting on its nautical charts the limits of the 12 nautical mile territorial sea, 24 nautical mile contiguous zone, and 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). These zones are highlighted in orange.
The territorial sea is a maritime zone over which the United States exercises sovereignty. Sovereignty extends to the airspace above and to the seabed below the territorial sea. The U.S. territorial sea extends 12 nautical miles from the baseline.
The contiguous zone of the United States is a zone contiguous to the territorial sea. In this zone, the U.S. may exercise the control necessary to prevent and punish infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration, cultural heritage, or sanitary laws and regulations within its territory or territorial sea. The U.S. contiguous zone is measured 24 nautical miles from the baseline.
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)
The exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the U.S. extends 200 nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline and is adjacent to the 12 nm territorial sea of the U.S., overlapping the 12-24nm contiguous zone. Within the EEZ, the U.S. has:
- sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring, exploiting, conserving and managing natural resources, whether living and nonliving, of the seabed and subsoil and the superjacent waters and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds
- jurisdiction as provided for in international and domestic laws with regard to the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations, and structures, marine scientific research, and the protection and preservation of the marine environment
- other rights and duties provided for under international and domestic laws
(See Presidential Proclamation No. 5030, March 10, 1983.)
Certain U.S. fisheries laws use the term “exclusive economic zone” (“EEZ”). While its outer limit is the same as the EEZ on NOAA charts, the inner limit generally extends landward to the seaward boundary of the coastal states of the U.S. For the seaward limit of the states jurisdiction under the Submerged Lands Act, please see GIS Data / Shapefiles.
Maritime boundaries with adjacent and opposite countries are established through agreement and treaties with these neighboring nations. For more information about these treaties, visit the Department of State information page on maritime boundaries.
Download Maritime Limits White Paper
U.S. Maritime Zones Description in the Coast Pilot (pp. 32-34)
History of Maritime Zones under International Law
U.S. Maritime Boundary Treaties from Department of State
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