TONGA DEMOCRACY GROUP WANTS GOVERNMENT TO CLAIM OWNERSHIP OF MARINE ORGANISMS

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NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (July 18, 2000 - Radio Australia)---The Tonga Human Rights and Democracy Movement has called on the government to claim ownership over hundreds of previously unknown marine organisms discovered in the Tonga Trench by scientists from Australia and France.

Researchers from Australia's CSIRO and France's Institute for Research and Development, together with the Victoria Museum, found 850 marine organism species, one third of which were previously unknown.

Movement Director Lopeti Senituli said it is essential that Tonga's government stake its claims of ownership over the marine organisms.

Mr. Senituli said Tonga has rights of ownership over natural resources, including flora and fauna inside its geographical and legal jurisdiction.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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