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Deadline nears for Pacific maritime claims

ABC Radio Australia - Stephanie March Last Updated: Fri, 8 May 2009 14:56:00 +1000

Countries in the Pacific region have less than a week to submit claims to the United Nations if they think they have legitimate grounds to extend their continental shelf boundaries. Solomon Islands, Paupa New Guinea and Federated States of Micronesia have submitted a joint claim which covers the Ontong Java plateau. Phil Symonds from Geoscience Australia says the area could potentially be rich in biological and mineral resources.

"In the case of the Ontong Java, which is sitting in environments that are more commonly associate with finding deep sea minerals - metalic sulfide deposits and things like that, that would be the most obvious conventional type of resource," he said. "I dont think the Onong Java is an area where you would be really looking for oil and gas deposit."

In the Pacific, Palau, Tonga and Nauru are the only countries yet to lodge submissions. Kiribati and Tuvalu have extended deadlines of several years, because they signed the UN convention of the Law of the Sea after 1999, when the original deadline was set.

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