Where does maritime law apply?

Maritime law is the law of the water and waterways. However, it can be confusing as to what waterways it actually applies to, especially in Lousiana, which has different types of waterways. According to the Offices of the United States Attorneys, the general maritime law states it has jurisdiction over the high seas. This is a confusing term for everyone and has caused many court cases to figure it out.

When it comes to the high seas, it was always thought to be any open waters or enclosed areas leading to the sea. For example, along the southern coast of the state would be a high seas area. However, due to some court cases, that definition has been further refined to mean waters that a country holds specific claim over. This would still include the area along the coast, but some of the waters in the Gulf of Mexico would belong to Mexico and not be under U.S. maritime law. 

Furthermore, it is important to know that maritime law at the federal level does not include any waterways that are not under state jurisdiction. That is simple enough to understand. Lakes or other landlocked bodies of water in the state are not under maritime law. However, the Mississippi River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico, may sometimes fall under maritime law at the federal level, while other times, it could fall under state law. 

Maritime law can be tricky to figure out because of the many variances. This information is for education and is not legal advice.