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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

9 April 2014, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji – Work begins next week on a series of underwater surveys to produce updated navigational charts for Vanuatu.  Like many Pacific Island countries, Vanuatu has a vast maritime area. Modern charts will result in safer navigation for both cargo shipping and cruise ships, producing economic and social benefits for Vanuatu.

A team of hydrographers and technicians from the Government of Vanuatu and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Geoscience Division (GSD) will collect the necessary data over several months.  Their supported by the New Zealand government, the United Kingdom’s Hydrographic Office, and the Government of Vanuatu.

The survey will chart four critical areas which have been identified through a risk assessment carried out by New Zealand – Luganville and Champagne Bay on Espiritu Santo, and the islands of Wala, Malekula, and Homo Bay, Pentecost.

‘The port of Luganville in particular is of high economic value to Vanuatu,’ says Mr Jens Kruger, Acting Deputy Director of SPC’s Geoscience for Development Programme. ‘The current chart from this port relies mostly on 19th century data and no new information has been added to the chart since the Second World War.’

Starting in July 2014, the International Maritime Organisation’s Safety of Life at Sea Convention regulations will require member countries to move toward using electronic navigational charts in their regions for safe shipping reasons.