20 Jul 2009

Northern Mariana's given control over its submerged lands

10:10 am on 20 July 2009

The US House of Representatives has approved by a unanimous vote a bill giving the Northern Mariana Islands control over its submerged lands.

The bill will give the CNMI ownership of up to three miles of its submerged lands.

Our correspondent Mark Rabago reports the CNMI government is calling the passage of the bill a "victory for the people of the CNMI."

"The US House of Representatives passed the bill, 416 to zero, which basically reverses a ruling by the Ninth Circuit court in 2005 that said that the submerged lands, that's three miles out of the CNMI, belongs to the US. So because of the efforts of our representative, Gregorio Kilikili Sablan, we were able to overturn this and the House of Representatives voted in our favour. Although it still needs Senate approval, because of the majority, the Senate probably won't have any problems voting affirmative with this and it will go to President Barack Obama's office for signature."