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FSM pleased with progress in territorial negotiations with Pacific neighbors

Updated: Jan 9


By Pacific Island Times News Staff The Federated States of Micronesia held consultation meetings with Palau, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands to discuss the next steps in securing their joint claims over Ontong Java Plateau, the FSM government said this week.


FSM officials described the Ontong Java Plateau joint submission as one of the most successful claim filings in the Pacific region, covering a vast expanse of the continental shelf that goes into the high sea pocket bounded by the claimant nations.


The FSM government said the claimant-nations are considering a revised submission "to present better and more comprehensive scientific data and related areas of further cooperation" over ECS, which refers to the portion of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from shore.


The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf endorsed the Ontong Java Plateau joint claim in 2018.


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FSM President David Panuelo said he is satisfied with the progress in securing the country's maritime boundaries, which resulted in territorial expansion "when it comes to continental shelf claims on the high seas area."


Most of the FSM's claims are now pending before the United Nations. The submissions included a comprehensive list of geographical coordinates defining the country’s baselines, territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone, maps, and relevant laws that sanctioned the maritime zones.

In April last year, the FSM submitted a claim over the north of Yap area. Other claims involved the Eauripik Rise filed in 2013, and the Mussau Ridge preliminary information filed in 2009.


The FSM had previous success with individual maritime boundary negotiations with Palau, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea and the United States.


"An ECS claim—if favorably recommended by the CLCS—will become part of national jurisdiction subject to FSM laws and regulations," the FSM government said. "Its implication is that the exploration and exploitation of seabed resources (including minerals, oil, and gas) with respect to the ECS area are granted to the FSM."

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The FSM sent a technical and legal team to the 21st Maritime Boundaries Session in Sydney to join the regional discussion on maritime boundaries and continental shelf issues. The Sydney Session was organized by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Pacific Maritime Boundaries Consortium of Partners, including the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, the Forum Fisheries Agency, Geoscience Australia, the Australian Attorney General’s Department, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, GRID-Arendal/UNEP, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the European Union, UK and the University of Sydney. All the delimitation treaties were deposited with the United Nation’s Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea in accordance with the UNCLOS and with the UN Treaty Section pursuant to the UN Charter. The intention behind these deposits is to ensure that the FSM’s maritime zone remains fixed, stable, legally recognized under international law, and shall remain in perpetuity, notwithstanding the adverse effects of climate change-related sea-level rise.

The Sydney Session also assisted the FSM and other Pacific countries in producing their extended continental shelf or ECS claims through cooperative efforts among the member countries and the consortium partners.




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