31 Oct 2005

Territorial dispute looming between Fiji and Tonga

7:48 am on 31 October 2005

A territorial dispute is looming between Fiji and Tonga over a reef which lies to the south of both countries towards New Zealand.

The Fiji Times reports that the bone of contention is Minerva Reef which the people of Ono-i-Lau in the Lau Group now say has been the traditional fishing ground of their ancestors for centuries.

The islanders say they may have overlooked Minerva Reef when registering their fishing grounds and land rights and have asked the government to secure it for them.

The attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, has told the Lau Provincial Council that the government has gathered experts to put together a case before it is taken to the United Nations.

The Jamaica-based United Nations International Seabed Authority is the body that draws up marine boundaries between countries and administers the Law of the Sea Convention.