Research & Resources: She sells seashells by the seashore, but does she own it?
Posted: 12:55 am Tue, October 23, 2012
The number of Internet resources relating to maritime/admiralty law is as vast and deep as the oceans of the Earth. This highly specialized area of law, which encompasses activity on, and use and control of the sea is rooted in international and national laws and treaties which deal with many topics including contract, labor, immigration, piracy and tort law issues. For example, the Tulane Maritime Law Center’s LL.M. and J.D. program track includes courses on Carriage of Goods by Sea, Insurance, Pollution, Regulation of Shipping and Commerce, and Vessel Documentation and Finance (www.law.tulane.edu/tlscenters/maritime/index.aspx).
What follows is a description of just a few of the many resources available to the casual or curious researcher whose interest lies with the sea.
In addition to the programs and materials offered at Tulane, a number of other universities and institutes offer similar degrees, moot court competitions and links to valuable resources. The University of Texas at Austin School of Law sponsors the Judge John R. Brown Admiralty Moot Court competition (/www.utexas.edu/law/advocacy/admiralty/) and the Law of the Sea Institute at the University of California, Berkeley Law publishes scholarly articles and studies relating to ocean policy and law of the sea. Recent research projects include Oceans in the Nuclear Age and Regional Cooperation against Illegal Fishing in the Pacific Ocean (www.law.berkeley.edu/1962.htm).
An overview of admiralty law and access to federal and state statutes, regulations, decisions and links to federal agencies, conventions, and other useful information can be found at Cornell’s Legal Information Institute (www.law.cornell.edu/wex/admiralty).
The International Maritime Law Institute (www.imli.org), a “specialized agency” of the United Nations, provides an index to the specific treaties and conventions applicable to maritime law. The institute offers advanced degrees in maritime law and has a number of useful resources posted on their website, including links to organizations, company directories, and memoranda of understanding on port state control.
The United Nation’s Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea website (www.un.org/Depts/los/) offers a vast array of timely information including settlements, lists of arbitrators and experts, and links to intergovernmental organizations.
The U.S. Maritime Administration (www.marad.dot.gov), established in 1950, seeks to “[t]o improve and strengthen the U.S. marine transportation system to meet the economic, environmental and security needs of the Nation.” There is a plethora of information on its website including a helpful and comprehensive set of frequently asked questions, data, statistics, forms, policy papers and fact sheets.
Its video archives include stories about the contribution of United States shipbuilding to the success in the battle of the North Atlantic during World War II and stories of the Merchant Marines impact on the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The United States regulator of “international ocean transportation for the benefit of exporters, importers, and the American consumer” is the independent Federal Maritime Commission (www.fmc.gov). The electronic reading room on its website provides links to commission proceedings, rulemaking and investigative documents. Also available is valuable information for shippers and cruise passengers including procedures for filing an action or complaint.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (www.foreign.senate.gov/treaties) includes status updates and history of treaties and conventions that the United States is either a signatory to or ones awaiting ratification. This site also provides information on upcoming hearings, press releases and copies of treaties.
The objective of the Maritime Law Association of the United States (www.mlaus.org) is, in part, to “advance reforms in the Maritime Law of the United States, to facilitate justice in its administration, to promote uniformity in its enactment and interpretation … and to act with other associations in efforts to bring about a greater harmony in the shipping laws, regulations and practices of different nations.”
Its website has an extensive library of links to codes, legislation, reports and policies. The proceedings of its biennial meetings, which cover recent decisions and legislation, are also available online.
There are a number of blogs and social media resources devoted to maritime law. The United Nation’s International Maritime Organization (www.imo.org) has a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/IMOHQ) and on LinkedIn has a number of groups for professionals who are involved in the industry including the Maritime Network. The Blawg directory produced by the ABA Journal provides the names and links to a number of admiralty/maritime law blogs (www.abajournal.com/blawgs/topic/admiralty+maritime+law). A few notables from this list include the Maritime Law Blog (www.maritimelawblog.net), the Import Trade Law (importtradelaw.com) and the US Maritime (www.usmaritimelaw.org) blogs.
Finally, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Coast Survey (www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/index.html) was created in 1807 to “provide nautical charts that would help the young nation with safe shipping, national defense, and maritime boundaries.” A few highlights of material accessible on its website include current and historical maps and charts and access to maritime limits and boundaries. Videos on charting and lessons and activities for teachers and students are also available online. This website provides useful and educational data and links for sailors and sailors at heart everywhere.
Cyndi Trembley has been with the Rochester firm of Harris Beach PLLC since 1997, most recently in the position of manager of research services. Prior to Harris Beach, she served as a reference librarian for 18 years at a Syracuse law firm. Her professional activities include service as past president of the Association of Law Libraries of Upstate New York. For almost two decades she has given presentations on Internet issues and resources for library groups, attorneys and law students.