International Waters Law and Legal Definition

International waters refer to water bodies transcending international boundaries. International waters are also known as trans-boundary waters. Water bodies include oceans, large marine ecosystems, enclosed or semi-enclosed regional seas and estuaries, rivers, lakes, groundwater systems (aquifers), and wetlands.

Earlier maritime law in the U.S. was only applied to American tidal waters but now it extends to all waters navigable within the U.S for interstate or foreign commerce. Maritime laws provide a legal framework for issues and accidents that take place on international waters.