4 Sep 2018

Securing Pacific maritime borders seen as urgent

3:50 pm on 4 September 2018

Maritime boundaries between Tonga, Samoa and Niue are among Pacific nations' borders ready to be signed off.

That's according to the Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Dame Meg Taylor who was briefing media ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum meeting this week.

The Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Meg Taylor

The Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Meg Taylor Photo: supplied / Forum Secretariat

She said securing maritime borders between Pacific island countries was a key issue for leaders attending the Nauru summit.

Dame Meg said a lot of work had been going on to delineate them and it was crucial for realising the value of countries' ocean resources.

"The maritime boundaries - to me that's the instrument to secure the Pacific. Look at a country like Kiribati. Five million square kilometres," she said.

"It's huge. It's really important for us to understand why the maritime boundaries have to be secured."

Pacnews reported of the 48 shared maritime boundaries in the Pacific, 35 had now been settled in signed treaties, with 13 more yet to be resolved.

USP Vice Chancellor, Rajesh Chandra

USP Vice Chancellor, Rajesh Chandra Photo: USP

Dame Meg said there were active discussions currently underway to resolve some of these outstanding shared boundaries - between Tonga, Samoa and Niue, Fiji and Vanuatu and Samoa and Tonga.

"Settlement of maritime boundaries provides certainty to the ownership of our ocean space, which is vital for managing our oceans resources, biodiversity, ecosystems and fighting the impacts of climate change."

One of the challenges for Pacific countries was the lack of scientific research and knowledge of the region's ocean resources, said outgoing Vice Chancellor of the University of the South Pacific, Professor Rajesh Chandra.

"Unless we know what we have within our EEZs, we cannot protect our interests. We cannot negotiate with strength without scientific data to support our claims. We know more about our fisheries but not about our oceans. We need to step up our scientific research," Professor Chandra said.

He said it was crucial that the Pacific determine the agenda of the scientific research on oceans.

"We have some scientific capabilities in the region, but we can do this better through partnerships with other universities and development partners. This is the age of collaboration but it's crucial to drive the point that the Pacific must drive the agenda for these researches."

generic boat waves

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