Laws Regarding Burials at Sea
So long as burials are done well off of a coast, there are very few restrictions on how a burial at sea can be conducted. Generally speaking, law-making bodies want to assure that sea burial will not result in a body being washed ashore, and, other than concern, there is little to interest a local, state, or national government in sea burials. And, to top it off, once a cremation vessel is more than 12 miles away from land, it is considered to be in international waters where complex maritime law takes precedent and, sea burial having been a seagoing tradition for as long as man has been afloat on the seas, there is little chance that law made by sailors will ever prohibit the practice. There has certainly been no move toward that to date.
So make matters even more favorable for sea burial, there are very few laws that prohibit the scattering of cremation ashes over an inshore body of water. (Entire bodies are another matter in this case, of course.) Many people have been known to transfer the remains of their loved one’s cremation into a special, biodegradable, floating urn designed to float peacefully on the water’s surface for 10 to 15 minutes before gradually sinking to the bottom of a body of water where it breaks down relatively quickly allowing the remains to scatter to the four corners of the Earth. This is entirely legal in just about any body of water, provided the participants break no laws in their ceremony at the surface of the water (such as in trespassing over private property, for example).