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Vanuatu and Solomon Islands to conclude historic maritime boundary treaty

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7 October 2016, Port Vila

The Pacific Community (SPC) is welcoming the conclusion of 33 years of negotiations between Vanuatu and Solomon Islands with the signing of a Maritime Boundary Agreement between the countries.

 

A signing ceremony involving the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, the Hon Manasseh Sogavare, and the Prime Minister for Vanuatu, the Hon Charlot Salawai, is expected to take place in northern Vanuatu today.

 

Vanuatu government officials said the landmark agreement will provide legal and jurisdictional certainty for Solomon Islands and Vanuatu for better management of the ocean, while at the same time allowing the two nations’ cultural and historical linkages to remain solid.

 

In congratulating both governments, the Director of SPC’s Geoscience Division, Professor Michael Petterson, said it was also a special and rewarding occasion for SPC staff who had supported the complex negotiations over many years.

 

“SPC’s Regional Maritime Boundaries Unit has been working with technical and legal teams from Pacific Island countries on the negotiations, alongside the Forum Fisheries Agency, Commonwealth Secretariat, the UN Environment Programme Grid Arendal and the Australian Government,” Prof Petterson said.

 

“It’s been a privilege for SPC to help equip government staff with expertise and skills necessary for these maritime boundary negotiations since early 2000, and we’re all proud that capacity exists in the region to reach a successful conclusion such as this,” he said.

 

In the Pacific Islands region, there are approximately 49 shared and overlapping Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), and almost 70 per cent of these have been successfully negotiated and signed by the respective leaders.

 

The treaty between Vanuatu and Solomon Islands will be the 36th Maritime Boundary Agreement to be signed to date.

 

The successful conclusion of this latest maritime agreement also fulfils one of the regional ocean policies, namely the Pacific Oceanscape Framework’s key strategic priorities to formalise maritime boundaries and secure rights over ocean resources.

 

Vanuatu officials this week acknowledged the assistance and technical support provided by SPC and other development partners over more than three decades.

 


Media contact:
Emily Artack       Maritime Boundaries Unit,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it +679 3381 377, ext 36275

 

Useful link:
SPC’s Regional Maritime Boundaries Unit:  http://gsd.spc.int/regionalmaritimeboundaries

Last Updated on Friday, 07 October 2016 14:39  

Newsflash

Ten years of research has culminated in the Banaban Report, a detailed study of phosphate mining on the Kiribati atoll island of Banaba (Ocean Island).The report, produced by SOPAC and commissioned by the Kiribati government, was presented to its President Anote Tong in a special ceremony in Suva recently. SOPAC is a division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

In presenting the report, SOPAC’s Director, Dr. Russell Howorth said that the contents were a milestone of achievement. “The challenges of sustaining such work over the long period of time is an endorsement of both Kiribati and SOPAC’s partnership commitment to the project,” said Dr. Howorth.

Joining Dr. Howorth at the presentation was SPC’s Deputy Director General, Mrs. Fekita ‘Utoikamanu, who said that SPC would investigate the use of its wider resources to further develop the resources on Banaba Island as an extension of the report.

President Tong accepted the report on behalf of the Kiribati government and thanked SOPAC for all the support it has given “to his country over the years.”

Caption: Kiribati President Anote Tong (left) receives the Banaban Report from SOPAC Director Dr. Russell Howorth (right), while SPC Deputy Director General (centre)  Mrs. Fekita ‘Utoikamanu looks on.