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40,000 square kilometers north of Australia

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 2, 2010) – Torres Strait Islanders have won a nine-year court battle to secure native title rights over a vast tract of ocean to Australia’s north.

The Federal Court Justice Paul Finn ruled in favour of their claim, covering more than 40,000 square kilometres of ocean between the top of Cape York and Papua New Guinea.

Justice Finn accepted the islanders had non-exclusive rights to the area, giving them ownership of waters but not excluding the access of others, such as commercial fisherman.

The declaration will officially be made in Brisbane on July the 30th, pending submissions from the islanders’ legal team and respondents including commercial fishermen and the state and federal governments.

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