UK supports Pacific Island progress on Extended Continental Shelf

UK supports Pacific Island progress on Extended Continental Shelf

Image: Pixabay

UK has signed an agreement with the Pacific Community for £263,000 that will help four Pacific island countries to secure rights over their ocean spaces.

The UK Government has signed an agreement with the Pacific Community (SPC) for SBD$2.9 million (£263,000) that will help Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, and Tonga to secure the rights and responsibilities over their respective ocean spaces.

The ocean sustains a multitude of activities that fuel local, national and international economies, providing livelihoods and food security for 10 million Pacific Islanders across the region.

Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are the custodians of 20 per cent of global maritime zones. To optimise the management, use and conservation of this vast ocean space, PICs require certainty over their maritime zones as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This includes the extended continental shelf (ECS) areas beyond their 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zones.

Clarifying sovereign rights over these ECS areas is crucial for the stability and development of PICs. Until these gaps in the world map are closed, PICs may not be in a position to fully protect their interests and achieve their blue economy aspirations.

The UK Government, through its Conflict, Stability and Security Fund will provide timely assistance in partnership with the Pacific Community to build the capacity of PICs in all aspects of progressing their ECS submissions.

Currently, there are 10 PICs with 17 ECS submissions at various stages awaiting examination by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. Among these states, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga, and Fiji have two joint and three individual submissions awaiting examination – North Fiji Basin, Charlotte Banks, South Fiji Basin, Eastern Kermadec Ridge, and Western Lau-Colville Ridge.

British High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Dr Brian Jones said, “We are glad to support this project which aims to help Pacific Island Countries ensure that their maritime zones are well defined. That will provide a basis for management and protection of these areas and enable sustainable use of marine resources to generate income and create employment, and ultimately contribute to the reduction of poverty.”

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Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.