21 Mar 2013

Marshalls and US sign sea patrol deal

3:30 pm on 21 March 2013

An agreement has been signed that will allow Marshall Islands law enforcement to use US Navy vessels to patrol their exclusive economic zone.

The agreement was signed by the Marshall Islands foreign minister, Phillip Muller, and the US Ambassador, Thomas Armbruster, in Majuro on Tuesday.

Our correspondent, Giff Johnson, says the agreement expands on a shiprider pact with the US Coastguard that was signed in 2008.

He says under the deal signed this week, US defence vessels sailing through the area can now carry Marshallese officers who will enforce local laws.

Giff Johnson says this is a big deal because the Marshall Islands have a lot of sea to patrol with very few resources.

"The country has only one patrol vessel that's supplied by the Australian Government, and the marine economic zone is something like 500,000 square miles of ocean and it's just virtually impossible to patrol. So any additional help is welcome and that's why the Marshall's and the US have expanded the arrangement."

Giff Johnson reporting from Majuro