Fiji Cabinet approves Continental Shelf submission

March 1, 2024 11:10 am

[File Photo]

Cabinet approved that a submission be made to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf on Fiji’s extended continental shelf claim in the South Fiji Basin in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Fiji was the first United Nations member State to sign and ratify UNCLOS in December 1982.

UNCLOS entered into force on 16 November 1994 and Fiji remains committed to its overarching guiding principles.

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In accordance with UNCLOS, the continental shelf that borders a country’s shoreline is considered to be a natural continuation of the country’s land territory.

Coastal states have exclusive rights to the resources located within the continental shelf, which legally is defined as the seabed up to roughly 370 km from shore or to the outer edge of the continental margin, whichever is farther, subject to an overall limit of about 650 km from the coast.

Where the continental shelf extends beyond 200 nautical miles, a coastal State is required under Article 76 of UNCLOS to make a submission to the Commission.

This submission sets out the coordinates of the outer limits of the continental shelf and is accompanied by technical and scientific data to support the claim.

The Commission will assess the Submission by the coastal State and make recommendations.

Once the Commission makes a recommendation to support the Submission, the outer limits of the continental shelf claimed by a coastal State are established and this claimed area now falls under the coastal State’s jurisdiction and sovereignty.

Currently, there are 10 countries in the Pacific, with 17 ECS submissions at various stages awaiting examination by the Commission.

Fiji has earlier filed two partial submissions to the Commission.

The complete submission to be tabled this year will supplement the partial submissions that have been submitted in 2009 and 2012 respectively.

A team from the Maritime Affairs Coordinating Committee will present and defend the Submission to the Commission and answer any technical questions that may arise.

The MACC is chaired by the Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs.