13 October 2020
FIJI COMMITS TO FINALISE MARITIME BOUNDARIES
Fiji National Maritime Boundaries Awareness Workshop
Representatives from a variety of ocean-related agencies committed to strengthen partnership to achieve the national goal of finalising Fiji’s maritime boundaries by 2025. Serving as national borders, defined maritime boundaries are critical for governance, peace and security, marine conservation, and natural resource management in coastal states like Fiji.
Hosted last week by the Fiji Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) with support from the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Pacific European Union Marine Partnership Program (PEUMP), the Fiji National Maritime Boundaries Awareness Workshop brought together the officials from the following agencies: Maritime Affairs Coordination Committee (MACC) stakeholders from Office of the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General’s Office, Economy, Environment, Fisheries, Transport, Defence, Hydrography, to enhance cross-agency coordination and build capacity to progress maritime boundaries.
“Fiji has three boundaries remaining to negotiate and conclude with its neighbours,” notes MACC chair, and MoFA Director Multilateral, Mr Peter Emberson. “We recognise this is a critical activity in support of the establishment and enforcement of marine protected areas, which are priorities under the emerging National Oceans Policy.”
Regional Pacific Maritime Boundaries Consortium partners supported sessions throughout the week. The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) presented on the applications of maritime boundaries for fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance. The International Union on the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) illustrated how maritime boundaries underpin the marine spatial planning efforts underway to conserve biodiversity hotspots and areas of concern to threatened marine species.
Pacific Islands Forum Deputy Secretary General, Dr. Filimon Manoni, spoke to the Leaders’ urgent call to conclude maritime boundaries, noting that this action is a critical step to “ensure these boundaries cannot be challenged or reduced as a result of sea level rise or climate change.”
A regional initiative launched last year, the Resilient Boundaries for the Blue Pacific Project, also presented on project plans and activities underway. Funded by the Australian Government, the project led by SPC takes a risk-based approach, analysing the basepoints that generate maritime zones across the region and identifying potential technical and legal solutions to ensure Pacific Islands retain rights to maritime jurisdictions in the face of rising sea levels.
SPC also coordinates the regional consortium and provides technical support and advice to the MACC.
“Pacific Leaders have committed to a collective effort to finalise the delimitation of maritime zones. The remaining 13 shared boundaries will require an even greater collective effort than we have shown as a region until now,” the Director of SPC’s Geoscience, Energy and Maritime Division, Dr. Andrew Jones said in his opening remarks.
Following this week’s meeting, and thanks to the leadership of MACC members and support of the Maritime Boundaries Consortium, the relevant actors in Fiji are better informed and more determined than ever to ensure that Fiji is on track to meet its goals.