According to the BBC, a few enterprising residents of the beach towns on the North Island’s Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand—a notorious holiday hotspot in years past—responded to a local ban on booze by building a sand island during low tide, and then hauling a picnic bench and cooler out to their miniature kingdom. When the tide came back in, they cracked open some beers and enjoyed the fireworks free and clear of the edict restricting their fellow Kiwis. “International waters,” they reportedly offered by way of explanation, which is a quote that the relevant Nobel Committee should engrave on the medal that will presumably be awarded to these amateur engineers next winter.
Alas, under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, “territorial waters” within 12 nautical miles of the coast remain subject to a state’s sovereignty, which means that a temporary manmade sand structure located in the intertidal zone does not come close to falling outside New Zealand’s jurisdiction. And depending on where, exactly, this island was built, it may even lie within the country’s internal waters over which law enforcement authorities retain even greater regulatory powers. Fortunately, the chill-as-hell law enforcement authorities in this case do not appear to be overly concerned with delineating the precise legal extent of the high seas.