Delay in return of CNMI submerged lands

1:53 pm on 27 January 2016

The Northern Marianas has described as unfair and insulting the United States' delay in handing over submerged land in the territory's north.

CNMI governor Ralph Torres being sworn in

CNMI governor Ralph Torres being sworn in Photo: RNZI Mark Rabago

The two sides have been negotiating the transfer of land around the islands within the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument which protects thousands of square kilometres in the Mariana archipelago.

The Governor Ralph Torres says the creation of the monument and the denial of ownership of submerged lands are affecting the relationship between the United States and the CNMI.

In a letter to the Interior Secretary Sally Jewel, he says unnecessarily challenging conditions have been set in the proposed transfer deal.

Mr Torres says the federal government's acquisition of the land may violate the terms and the spirit of the Covenant which established relations between the CNMI and the US

The US government wants the CNMI to prepare an approved management plan for the land surrounding Farallon de Pajaros, Maug, and Asuncion.

The CNMI would have certain responsibility for the land, but no money or technical assistance has been offered by the federal government.