Vanuatu Seeks Resumed Maritime Border Talks With France

admin's picture

Issue comes to fore after Vanuatu-flagged boat ‘illegally detained’

By Len Garae

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Dec. 2, 2013) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade has demanded that the French government resumes France-Vanuatu negotiations on maritime boundaries as soon as possible, due to what it believes was the "illegal detention" of the Vanuatu-licensed fishing boat Hu Yu 911, by the French Navy on October 27, which, Vanuatu insisted, was fishing within Vanuatu’s economic exclusive zone (EEZ) at the time of its being detained.

In a firmly worded statement, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade Edward Natapei said he was very disappointed that the fishing boat was prosecuted under French law in New Caledonia because the government was confident the vessel was fishing in Vanuatu waters at the time.

He said, "The ministry is adamant that the vessel has not infringed on France’s sovereignty in the absence of a treaty line, recognized by both France and Vanuatu, that would establish the maritime boundaries of New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

"The ministry wishes to express its strong disappointment on the way the French authorities have handled the case of the Hu Yu 911 and maintain that the decision to arrest and prosecute the vessel is unlawful and baseless as far as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is concerned (UNCLOS). The unilateral action taken by the French authorities to prosecute the vessel is of total disrespect to a sovereign state like Vanuatu and is detriment to the spirit of partnership and friendship that has guided the relations between France and Vanuatu over the years."

He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains that maritime boundary delimitations are sovereign issues and require commitment by the countries concerned to engage in effective negotiations, with a view to settle in an amicable manner and in accordance with international rules of the outstanding maritime boundaries issues.

The minister’s concern is that in the absence of an agreement and treaty signed between the two countries to determine where the boundary between Vanuatu waters and French waters lies, it remains questionable as to how one country can confirm that a foreign fishing boat has been fishing illegally in its waters.

The minister said, "The ministry (of Foreign Affairs and External Trade) wishes to confirm that the Vanuatu government does not recognise the decision by the French court to prosecute the vessel and will continue to seek ways and means to settle this outstanding issue with France in the spirit of friendship and cooperation."

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment