Beach Access Is Your 1,500 Year Old Right

beach access is your rightSome of you think that the ocean is yours or that a particular part of the shore that resides in front of your home has been claimed by you.

I have news for you, it is not.

The ocean is your true master and will decide at any moment to take back its ownership of ‘your’ shore or it may regurgitate onto your sandy doormat a whale bone or seal carcass as it sees fit.

In fact, even the laws set down by our government protects our (the people) access.

The public trust doctrine is the principle that certain resources (like costal access) are preserved for public use, and that the government is required to protect this right.

Beach Access Is Your 1,500 Year Old Right: Ask A Roman

We can thank the Roman Emperor Justinian that created various laws back in the 500s (yes, this dude was way ahead of his time) that stipulated that the sea, the shores of the sea, the air and running water was common to everyone.

The original intentions set forth by Justinian were ratified by the USA in 1892 and continue today. However, in the United States, the law differs among the fifty states, but in general limits ownership rights of ocean front property below the mean high tide line.

Massachusetts and Maine (which share a common legal heritage) allow private ownership as far as the mean low water line, yet they allow for public rights, like most other states, beyond this line as it stretches toward the sea. These two states are the most restrictive of public rights and represent the exception. Most states allow free access to the intertidal zone for walking, swimming, sunbathing—and most importantly—surfing.

This does not always include the right to cross private land to reach the shore but prevents private owners from excluding the public below the mean high tide line. This line is calculated as the average high tide line of a 14.1 year cycle which means in practical terms that neither property owners nor the public are likely to be able to identify its precise location.

Yes my friends, access to the beach is rightfully and lawfully yours—take it.

1,500 years ago Justinian made a ruckus that helped shape our future. What will you do today that will help shape the future of humanity 1,500 years from today?

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