SPC Geoscience Division

Home News & Media Releases Latest Continental shelf issues addressed by SOPAC

Continental shelf issues addressed by SOPAC

E-mail Print PDF

A SOPAC-organised workshop, supported by technical partners and funded by AusAID, is taking place in Sydney to help Pacific Island countries develop their Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) submissions to the United Nations.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, an island country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extends 200 nautical miles from its coastal baselines, which is calculated from the lowest tide levels. Article 76 of the Convention sets out criteria upon which an island country may establish an Extended Continental Shelf that extends beyond the 200 nautical mile limit.

Eight Pacific Island countries have lodged submissions for Extended Continental Shelf claims to the United Nations Commission on Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS). A further two are working towards their respective deadlines for submissions in 2013.

According to Arthur Webb, the Manager of the Ocean and Islands Programme at SOPAC, “Many island countries still have significant work to complete and update their lodged submissions. In several cases there is an important need for additional seafloor geological or depth of ocean data to support their existing submissions.”

The two-week long Sydney workshop, conducted by SOPAC with its technical partners Geoscience Australia, the Commonwealth Secretariat and UNEP SHELF Programme and 10 Pacific Island Country boundary teams is a continuation of a series of training workshops carried out since 2007.

Webb states “If countries are successful in their Extended Continental Shelf claims the sovereign rights of the State will only extend to the seabed and resources there-in.  It will not include resources such as fish in the ocean above. However, given the recent resurgence in deep sea mineral exploration, and other seafloor resources, conservation and biodiversity initiatives, the Pacific island countries still have much to gain by pursuing these claims.”

The Pacific Island countries taking part in the workshop have requested the assistance of SOPAC and its technical partners in the preparation of their coastal baselines based upon sound technical and scientific data.

SOPAC provides assistance to 19 island countries in the Pacific region through applied geoscience and technology.

CAPTION:  United Nations Law of the Sea Logo


Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 17:00  


We get ever closer to the end of the year but as we do there are no signs of the DRM activity abating. All our teams in the Disaster Reduction Programme (DRP) here in SOPAC/SPC are knuckling down trying to get as much in before they take a well deserved break over Christmas and New Year.

After a long period we've finally been able to engage again with Nauru on a broader front and in addition to the EU-funded B Envelope Project, are now providing support to strengthen the capacity of the National DRM Office and will in 2012, be working closely with all stakeholders on a Joint National Action Plan for DRM and Climate Change Adaptation.

The Solomon Islands has also decided to develop a Joint DRM and Climate Change Adaptation National Action Plan and so combined with Nauru and Fiji, DRP working with partner organisations will have alot to do in mainstreaming work at least within the first six months of 2012.

Shortly we will also begin preparations for the 2012 Pacific Platform for DRM and as referenced in our last issue, will also commence the process of developing an integrated regional strategy for DRM and Climate Change which is to be ready for consideration by Pacific leaders in 2015.

I hope you enjoy reading this issue.

Read Full Issue | Download Issue

Mosese Sikivou
Deputy Director
Disaster Reduction Programme