Since transmitting its revised submission concerning the Manihiki Plateau to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in 2021, several meetings have been held between the Cook Islands Government and the Sub-Commission established to assess the revised submission.

Each meeting has steadily progressed the Cook Islands’ ongoing efforts to secure it’s extended continental shelf entitlements.

Led by Director of the Treaties, Multilateral, and Oceans Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Sandrina Thondoo, the national delegation again met the Subcommission at the 60th Session of the CLCS in New York last week from 04 to 08 March 2024.

The delegation presented information on the revised base of the continental slope in the north area of the Western Plateaus margin, geological continuity in the Manihiki Plateau, and the methodology for establishing the 2,500-meter isobath.

The delegation also provided comments on the applicable distance constraint, addressing legal and procedural issues. The Subcommission shared its assessment of the base of slope in the north region of the High Plateau during the exchange of views.

The Subcommission later presented on its assessment on the base of slope in the Western and Northern Margins, as well as the foot of slope in the Western and North Plateau and the Avatea Spur. They also shared preliminary views on the natural components of the continental margin of Manihiki Atoll and Rakahanga Island. During the exchange of views, the delegation responded with a presentation on methods for identifying the base of slope along the High Plateau, addressing points raised by the Subcommission on 05 March.

“Under the umbrella of the United National Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Cook Islands has delimited its maritime boundaries with five opposite or adjacent coastal states in the region, namely, France (in respect of French Polynesia), Kiribati, New Zealand (in respect of Tokelau), Niue and the United States (in respect of America Samoa) for areas in which the exclusive economic zone entitlements would other wise overlap and no disputes exist between the Cook Islands and its neighbours,” said MFAI Secretary Tepaeru Herrmann.

“Those delimitation efforts go as far back as 1980 when the Treaty between the USA and the Cook Islands on Friendship and delimitation of the maritime boundary between the USA and Cook Islands were signed. They are the foundation upon which our ocean wealth, health and security continue to provide for our people and are our impetus for sustaining current efforts relating to progressing our extended continental shelf claim. The work of the CLCS in establishing rights over ocean space in accordance with international law is our obligation to future generations of Cook Islanders and MFAI look forward to working closely with our technical agencies to ensure we have a successful outcome.”

At the conclusion of the sixtieth session, the Subcommission decided that its members would continue to assess the revised Submission during the intersessional period, before meeting again at the sixty-first session to be held from 18 to 29 July 2024.