The Territorial Seas (including hydrocarbon, coal and mineral rights, up to the 12 mile limit) was purchased by the Isle of Man Government from the United Kingdom Government in 1991. The Territorial Sea Committee (TSC) is a cross-governmental committee which was set up to manage the Isle of Man's interests following the purchase.
Ownership of the Territorial Seas is vested in the Department of Infrastructure and managed by the Ports Division. The TSC is chaired by the Chief Officer of the Department of Infrastructure and consists of officers from all Departments of Government with an interest in the sea, seabed, minerals, hydrocarbons, etc.
Matters which have been dealt with by the Committee are varied and include the laying of pipelines and cables, hydrocarbons, exploration and enquiries regarding an offshore windfarm. Any proposal to site a structure, cable or pipeline in Isle of Man waters is subject to Manx legislative requirements that include environmental assessments and a lease of easement from the Department of Infrastructure (see information and legislation page).
Purchased for £800,000, the ownership of the Territorial Sea has resulted in the Island collecting more than £2 million in capital fees and currently receives approximately £350,000 annually for cables and pipelines passing through the area and also from oil and gas exploration licences. Continuing interest in Manx owned seabed for cable and pipe laying is likely to ensure further returns in the future on the original sound investment.
Following the acquisition of its Territorial Seas, the Isle of Man took responsibility for overseeing salvage and pollution counter-measures in order to comply with international conventions. This responsibility is vested in the Ports Division of the Department of Infrastructure.
The resulting contingency plan and stock of counter-pollution equipment have been continually revised and upgraded to ensure that a high level of response is possible. The plan and equipment have been used successfully during small-scale incidents both on the coastline, in harbours and inland.
In the event of a large-scale incident the Isle of Man has an agreement with the UK's Maritime and Coastguard Agency for the provision of assistance.