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  • By Pacific island Times News Staff

FSM, Palau hold talks on extended maritime seabed claims

Palikir, Pohnpei—The Federated States of Micronesia and Palau successfully held their first bilateral consultation on Oct. 15-16 in Koror, on their respective extended continental shelf projects.

FSM offered cooperation in respect of Palau’s claim of extended continental shelf entitlement on the so-called North Area, also known as Palau-Kyushu Ridge, which is known in FSM as the North of Yap Area.

“This latest friendly consultation in Koror is a demonstration of good neighborliness among Pacific countries, in particular, the Northern Pacific Region, in resolving potentially overlapping extended continental shelf entitlements,” according to FSM Information Service.

The FSM delegation included acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Ricky Cantero and acting Justice Secretary Leonito Bacalando Jr., while Rebluuld Kesolei, Deputy Chief of Staff of the President led the Palau delegation.

Both delegations agreed to consider signing a Memorandum of Understanding once FSM’s submission over the North of Yap Area is complete.

Palau’s claim is currently undergoing technical examination by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in New York, a process which the FSM itself went through a few years ago with respect to the Ontong Java Plateau (OJP) submission.

During the consultation, FSM said it had conducted technical work with respect to the North of Yap Area as an additional future submission to the commission. This future submission will potentially overlap Palau’s claim.

The FSM reassured Palau that it would not object to the further technical examination of Palau’s extended continental shelf claim, which will resume next month in New York. Palau assured it would not object to consideration of a future extended continental shelf submission by FSM either.

Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, a country such as the FSM is entitled to an extension of continental shelf claims beyond the normal 200 nautical miles of its exclusive economic zone if it is able to demonstrate continuity or natural prolongation of the continental shelf according to the scientific or technical guidelines set by the Commission.

The FSM has several extensions of continental shelf projects in accordance with Article 76 of the UNCLOS, giving the FSM additional seabed area beyond the EEZ, among them the OJP, which was a joint claim together with Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

The rules of the commission require that where an objection is made against an extension of a continental shelf claim, further consideration of such claim will stop.

The FSM delegation assured Palau that FSM has no intention of making an objection, given the enormous efforts and resources that Palau had invested into this project.

As a matter of reciprocity, Palau acknowledged that it would not object to any future claim by FSM.

Palau officials are scheduled to meet with the commission in New York this month.

In 2006, the FSM and Palau entered into a treaty concerning maritime boundary delimitation and cooperation on related matters, including extension of their continental shelves. The FSM invoked this treaty as a basis for the recent consultation, and Palau accepted FSM’s offer to consult, which produced positive outcomes for both countries. (FSMIS)


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