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Rarotonga, Cook Islands 29/08/12 -  At the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum meeting here in Rarotonga this week, a unique event was witnessed when the Leaders of seven (7) Pacific Island Countries signed and exchanged a total of eight (8) Maritime Boundary Agreements which will bring state-of-the-art accuracy and legal clarity to the boundary positions between several overlapping jurisdictions of neighbouring Pacific Island Countries.

This multiple signing event is a remarkable testament of the close kinship and excellent neighbourly relationships between Pacific Islands Countries and underlines their ability to work together in a spirit of equitable and unified progress. By clearly establishing these boundaries and zones under domestic and international law, as set out in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the signing of these agreements will provide the foundation for improved governance, protection, conservation and management of resources within respective national jurisdictions.

The seven (7) bilateral treaties were signed by the leaders of the Cook Islands, Niue, Kiribati, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Nauru and the Marshall Islands. In addition, the leaders of Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Nauru agreed to an additional tri-lateral treaty concerning the determination of a point where the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of all three (3) countries intersect, referred to as a “Tri-junction point”.

The successful preparations of these agreements leading up to the signing event have been a result of the excellent collaborative work between the respective technical and legal country teams and the regional coordination and collaboration with the Applied Geoscience & Technology Division (SOPAC) of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), Geoscience Australia, the Government of Australia’s Attorney General’s Office and the Commonwealth Secretariat. The regional funding support towards these SPC activities is provided by AusAID.