13 May 2008

Pacific seabed claims coordinated by Sopac

2:13 pm on 13 May 2008

Seven Pacific countries are working together this week to try to make a deadline to claim extra ocean area.

They have until the end of May next year to put together technical information justifying an extension of sovereignty over a great section of seabed.

The Regional Geoscience Commission, Sopac, is helping to co-ordinate the work and the manager of the Oceans and Islands Programme, Arthur Webb, says significant resources could be involved:

"You've got the deep sea manganese nodules. In some of the shallower areas, there's also petroleum potential which is there, there is also some of the less well known resources like gas hydrates for example, which again little is known about these sorts of resources, but they are all potentially there."

Arthur Webb says the claim under the lnternational Law of the Sea would give rights to the seabed, but not the water column above it.

The nations looking to make claims are Fiji, Kiribati, the Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga, the Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Palau.