31 Jan 2005

Vanuatu Maritime Authority confident of reaching resolution with New Caledonia

2:12 pm on 31 January 2005

The Vanuatu Maritime Authority, the VMA, says it hopes its government will reach an agreement with New Caledonia to share resources where their maritime borders overlap.

Accompanied by VMA officials, Vanuatu's minister of public works, Maxime Carlot Korman, held talks with authorities in Noumea last week in a bid to resolve a border dispute.

The row stems from an incident in November when a vessel, licensed to fish in Vanuatu waters, was seized by a French patrol boat.

The VMA's commissioner, Les John Napuati, says the dispute centres on the area in which the vessel was seized, which is where both Vanuatu and New Caledonia's economic zones overlap.

Mr Napuati says although he hasn't heard the delegation's report yet, he understands the discussions were positive...

"But I have spoken to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to assist. I think they're thinking of going back to Noumea again to resolve the matter in a diplomatic manner. From my point of view I would like to see an agreement where both countries allow fishing vessels to fish within their disputed EEZ boundaries and there should be resources shared between the two countries."

Les John Napuati