Tuesday, 13 May 2008 11:21 AM

Six Pacific Island Countries to Claim Ocean Space

Six countries in the region are working on their submissions to the United Nations (UN) to claim extra ocean space.

According to Fijilive, the six island nations 'are beginning to feel the pressure to complete their submissions to the United Nations to claim extra ocean space, with only one year remaining to the May 2009 deadline, says the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC)'.

'The Maritime Boundaries Project Officer with SOPAC, Emily Artack said Fiji along with Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga and Papua New Guinea have a credible claim to more than 1.5 million square kilometres of additional space beyond their current 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)'.

'Artack said SOPAC, GA (Geoscience Australia) and UNEP will help these countries complete the activities required to delineate the outer limits of their continental shelf' and that 'scientific studies have revealed the access to extended continental shelf could mean more access to mineral rich resources previously outside our EEZ'.

Fijilive also reports that SOPAC Director, Cristelle Pratt, stated that, '"These Pacific Island Countries recognise that determining the boundaries of their Exclusive Economic Zone beyond 200 nautical miles is critical to securing exclusive ocean development of potentially rich non-living resources, such as oil, gas, gold and silver, as well as living organisms that live on and beneath the seabed."

Reportedly, the move to secure this ocean space is being made possible under article 76 of the International Law of the Sea.