16 May 2011

CNMI calls for control of submerged lands

8:22 am on 16 May 2011

The Northern Marianas representative in the US Congress says acquiring authority over the Commonwealth's submerged lands could make it easier to pursue opportunities in its surrounding area.

The territory's Congressional delegate, Gregorio Kilili Sablan, has sponsored a bill seeking to convey authority of three miles of submerged land around the Northern Marianas to the Commonwealth.

He says the Northern Marianas is currently the only US jurisdiction which does not have such authority, and the bill would simplify the management of any resources in the area.

"Acquiring the rights over these submerged lands would include the waters, and for example there are some conversations about starting say an aquaculture industry in the Marianas. Presently we need to get permission from all kinds of federal agencies but with this it will lesson the need to interact with federal agencies. It would give to the Commonwealth some authority over the processes."

Gregorio Sablan says he does not know if there are other resources within the submerged lands which could be of commercial value.