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Regional Coordination, another success for the Pacific

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SOPAC and technical partners coordinated assistance to help four Pacific Island Countries make recent maritime sovereignty history. In April 2010, representatives from the governments of Papua New Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon Islands and the Kingdom of Tonga made successful presentations to the United Nations for their respective extended seabed areas. These submissions are made pursuant to the 1982 United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea.

Two presentations were made in New York; the first was a joint presentation by the governments of Papua New Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia and the Solomon Islands for the joint Art 76 submission on the Ontong Java plateau. The second was a presentation by The Kingdom of Tonga for the south eastern area of the Kermadec Ridge.
The area claimed in the joint submission is for over 600,000 sq km of shared pacific seabed. The area claimed is larger than the combined land mass of the three pacific islands countries involved. It is also significant that for the first time, three Pacific Small Island Developing States have successfully worked together to conclude a joint MOU and submission to the United Nations.

SOPAC, through the Maritime Project has successfully coordinated regional efforts by bringing together technical and legal experts from pacific island countries for 6 training workshops for Pacific Island Countries who have lodged claims for about 1.8 million sq km of seabed territory in the Pacific Ocean.The recent presentations made by Papua New Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon islands and Tonga are yet another successful milestone for Pacific Island Countries and the SOPAC Maritime Boundaries Project.

This effective joint effort coordinated by SOPAC has enabled project partners who include Geoscience Australia, UNEP Shelf Programme, Commonwealth Secretariat, Geolimits, the National Oceanography Centre and GeoCap?, as well as the support of the Japan Hydrographic Association and Ocean High Technology Institute, Inc. to deliver effective coordinated assistance to Pacific Island Countries. The SOPAC Maritime Boundaries Project is funded by the Australian Government through AusAID.

The Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands formally submitted their joint claim on the 5th of May 2009 under the 1982 United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea. This Convention has been called the "constitution for the oceans" and deals with all aspects surrounding human interaction with the oceans and seas.

The joint submission effectively represents the potential source of wealth and opportunities for sustainable development of the three Pacific Island States as the area may possess oil, minerals, gas and bio-prospecting potential.

Whilst noting milestones of the SOPAC coordinated regional approach to assistance on Marine Boundaries to the Pacific Islands, it should be highlighted that it was the Cook Islands and subsequently, Fiji who made the first Pacific Islands presentation to the UN in September of 2009.



The Maritime Boundaries Project within the Ocean & Island Programme of SOPAC is dedicated to regional cooperation and service and continues to assist the remaining Pacific Island Countries who have yet to present their claims for extended continental shelf.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 May 2010 14:29  


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