21 Dec 2005

Some progress over maritime boundaries expected in South Pacific

4:12 pm on 21 December 2005

There is some progress being made in settling differences over maritime boundaries in the South Pacific and further discussions are expected early next year.

Vanuatu's Commissioner of Mines, Tony Tevi, says they have three disputed boundaries, including those with Solomon Islands, Fiji and New Caledonia.

He says there are a total of 45 outstanding maritime boundaries in the region that still need to be resolved.

But, Mr Tevi says Vanuatu is making some headway over its concerns with two countries.

"With the Solomon Islands, there've already been talks on settling the boundaries. Fiji has already indicated that they would like to start negotiating, talking over the boundaries, early 2006. Now, with France and New Caledonia, we'll have to look for that much deeper and much more detailed because we're dealing with a superpower."

Mr Tevi says there are a variety of ways to settle the boundaries, including drawing straight lines or sharing common zones.

But, he says there are also issues over extending continental shelves which need to be determined.