31 Jan 2005

Vanuatu confident of reaching resolution with New Caledonia over shared maritime border

4:34 pm on 31 January 2005

The Vanuatu Maritime Authority is confident its government can reach a resolution to a maritime border dispute with New Caledonia.

Accompanied by VMA officials, Vanuatu's minister of public works, Maxime Carlot Korman, held talks with authorities in Noumea last week in a bid to resolve the dispute.

The row stems from an incident in November when a French patrol boat seized a vessel suspected of illegal fishing.

The boat was licensed to fish in Vanuatu waters and the VMA later secured the vessel's release.

The VMA's commissioner, Les John Napuati, says the dispute centres on the area in which the vessel was seized, where both Vanuatu and New Caledonia's economic zones overlap.

"The negotiation is positive and we are confident that we will very soon sign an agreement. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982, both countries are allowed to negotiate and sign an agreement as to how they can utilise resources where their EZs overlap which will be drafted and then both parties will sit and look at the contents of agreement before actually signing it."

The VMA's commissioner, Les John Napuati.