French EEZ Around New Caledonia Extended
Continental shelf claim expands territory by 500,000 km2
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 1, 2015) – France says it has extended the continental shelf off several of its overseas territories, including New Caledonia, by a total of half a million square kilometres.
This follows a favourable recommendation by the United Nations' Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
The move, which also applies to Guyana, Guadeloupe and Martinique, allows France to claim control over the sea shelf beyond the internationally recognised 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone.
France, which has islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean has the world's second largest maritime zone.
Two years ago, the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council urged the government to secure resources in the seabed off France's overseas territories.
In a report, the Council says the Law of the Sea allows for France to lay claim to an additional two million square kilometres, half of which are in French Polynesia.
It says France would be negligent not to profit from this as French Polynesia has rare earths, whose reserves are held by China in a near monopoly.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 2, 2015) – Some chiefs in Wallis and Futuna are unhappy with the French administration and have reportedly raised the question of seeking independence.
The territory's public broadcaster says the customary council of the kingdom of Sigave on the island of Futuna has directed its displeasure in a letter to the French prefect amid concerns over land ownership and rights to the sea.
The chiefs are worried that fishing rights within the island's Exclusive Economic Zone have been given to US boats and oppose recent calls by France to exploit seabed minerals.
They say before France arrived, all authority was with the king and now they may possibly seek independence as well as outside help either from China, Japan, Australia or the US.
Their letter also expresses concern that there is an imbalance between Sigave and Wallis in the allocation of funds.
Wallis and Futuna became a French territory in 1961, incorporating three traditional kingdoms - two of which are on Futuna.