Story: Law of the sea

Exploration of the Pacific Ocean

Exploration of the Pacific Ocean

Around the time that the concept of ‘freedom of the seas’ was evolving, in the 17th century, European navigators were exploring the Pacific Ocean. This map shows the routes taken by the Portuguese explorers Fernão de Magalhães (Ferdinand Magellan) and Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, Spaniard Luis Vaz de Torres, Englishman Francis Drake, and Dutchman Abel Tasman. The philosophy behind freedom of the seas was that the ocean outside a territorial sea which extended about 3 nautical miles from land could be travelled by anyone, and its resources exploited freely. This approach supported exploration.

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How to cite this page:

Bill Mansfield, 'Law of the sea - Control of the oceans', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 May 2022)

Story by Bill Mansfield, published 12 Jun 2006