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Australia and Pacific Islands cooperate to update maritime boundaries in world’s largest ocean

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4 December 2015, SydneyPacific Representatives of 12 Pacific Island countries are meeting in Sydney this week with maritime experts from Australia and the Pacific Community (SPC) to negotiate maritime boundary agreements and refine their claims to areas of continental shelf.

Pacific Island countries have limited land areas but vast space entitlements in the Pacific Ocean, leading Pacific leaders to coin the phrase “Large Ocean Island States”.

Delimiting maritime zones is an important process for countries to secure their rights over ocean space and marine resources, including fisheries and seabed minerals.

The hands-on workshop will enable the technical and legal teams from each country to work with a group of advisers from SPC, Geoscience Australia, the University of Sydney, the Australian Attorney-General’s Department, the Commonwealth Secretariat, GRID-Arendal and the Forum Fisheries Agency.

"This workshop will assist Pacific Island states to establish their full entitlements to maritime zones in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and review their maritime zones legislation,” the Manager of Oceans and Coastal Geoscience for the Pacific Community (SPC), Jens Kruger, said.

“Two claims to areas of extended continental shelf are currently being considered by the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, with another seven in the queue. Four Pacific countries have enacted new maritime zones legislation, and six states have submitted information on the limits of their maritime zones with the UN.”

“The Pacific is really leading the world in this area,” Professor Elaine Baker, Chair of Marine Science at the University of Sydney, noted.

“Having established their maritime entitlements, many of the country teams are now developing the tools to manage their marine spaces effectively.  This is something that many developed countries are only just beginning to grapple with,” Prof Baker said.

This is the 14th maritime boundaries workshop SPC has held for Pacific Island countries since 2002, in conjunction with a range of other experts.

“The workshops have enabled Tuvalu to conclude our maritime boundary agreements with our neighbours and to declare the limits of each of our maritime zones,” Tuvalu’s Director of Lands and Survey and Chair of the Pacific Geospatial and Surveying Council, Faatasi Malaloga, said. “We can now focus on the management of Tuvalu’s marine resources.”

These workshops continue to be funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This workshop is the latest example of the technical cooperation between SPC and the Government of Australia and demonstrates Australia’s ongoing commitment to achieving sustainable development results that make a difference to the lives of Pacific Island people.

Media contact: Molly Powers-Tora, Climate and Oceans Regional Officer, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   or +679 3249250Appeler : +679 3249250, Emily Artack, Maritime Boundaries Technical Officer, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 December 2015 14:17  

Newsflash

05 September 2013, Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands - At the occasion of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), European Union Commissioner for Climate Action Mrs Connie Hedegaard and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Director General Dr. Jimmie Rodgers and the Secretary General of the Secretariat of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, Mr Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, have signed the "ACP-EU Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific" programme.

The European Union (EU) will provide 20 million Euro to support the Pacific states in addressing the impacts of climate change and the urgent need to improve resilience to natural disasters.

The high vulnerability of Pacific Island Countries to disaster is well known. This is further exacerbated by their often small land areas as well as their narrow, subsistence based fragile economies. Natural hazards undermine development and the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

This Programme responds to these challenges and will strengthen the capacity of the Pacific states to address existing and emerging challenges with regard to the risks posed by natural hazards and related disasters, while maximising synergies between disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA).

"For the Pacific people, climate change is not about a distant future. It has become the new normal. This programme will help the Pacific states in their efforts to adapt to this new climate reality. The Pacific states can count on Europe to continue its climate cooperation in the region”, said European Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard.