United Nations
Pacific Maritime Boundaries Project
by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Geoscience Australia/Attorney General’s Department (Government)
The Pacific Maritime Boundaries Project aims to assist Pacific island countries (PICs) to secure maritime jurisdictional rights consistent with international law with an estimated value of just under AUD 2 million over three years (20017-18 to 2019-20). It will focus on two main areas:
- Support to the Pacific Community (SPC) and PICs to finalise outstanding Pacific maritime boundaries and limits; and
- Establish an administrative infrastructure and capability required for boundary dissemination and which also supports the efficient use of marine space and the resolution of conflicts between users.

Geoscience Australia will lead the implementation of the project in partnership with the Australian Attorney General's Department, SPC and Sydney University (with GRID Arendal, a foundation established jointly by UNEP and the Norwegian Government).

Secure maritime boundaries lay the foundation for clear zone-based rights, underpinning economic development opportunities. They are essential for the effective management and enforcement of fisheries within coastal states exclusive economic zones and on the high seas. They better enable states to meet their environmental management responsibilities and strengthen border security. Secure boundaries also bring greater certainty to the commercial investment environment.

For these reasons, settling maritime rights and responsibilities has been identified as a high priority by Pacific Leaders. It was identified as Strategic Priority 1 by Pacific Island Forum Leaders in the regions Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape (FPO), and supports the actions under FPO Strategic Priority 3 (Sustainable development, management and conservation). It was recently affirmed as a key priority for Leaders at the Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the UN Ocean Conference in March 2017 and at the Officials meeting of the Forum Fisheries Committee in May 2017.
This project will build on successful work led by the project partners since 2011 which has assisted PICs to settle 15 maritime boundaries and modernise maritime zones legislation. This new funding will focus on the remaining outstanding boundaries through technical geospatial and legal assistance, and providing independent support for effective boundary negotiations and legislative drafting. The project will also work with SPC to enhance regional systems for the capture, storage and public use of authoritative maritime boundary and other marine regulatory information.
Progress reports
By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
Type of commitment
  • Economic benefits from sustainable fisheries
Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want
Type of commitment
  • Activities to raise awareness of the comprehensive legal and policy framework for the sustainable development of oceans and seas, in particular UNCLOS, its Implementing Agreements and other relevant ocean-related instruments and promote their effective im
  • Ratification, accession and acceptance of UNCLOS, its Implementing Agreements and other relevant ocean-related instruments
  • Activities to develop the capacity of States towards broader participation in and effective implementation of UNCLOS and its implementing Agreements
  • Strengthening ocean governance, for example through the development of a national ocean policy or regional ocean policy
  • Development of necessary infrastructure and/or enforcement capabilities to comply with international law, as reflected in UNCLOS and as complemented by other ocean-related instruments
June 2020
greater certainty in relation to maritime boundaries and limits, and the rights, responsibilities and restrictions related to them (including shared boundaries, high seas and extended continental shelf)
June 2020
improved systems for the capture, storage and public use of authoritative maritime boundary and other marine regulatory information
Financing (in USD)
1,470,000 USD
Staff / Technical expertise
Advisory staff and consultants (valued at approximately USD 750,000)
Basic information
Time-frame: 2017 July - 2020 June
Geoscience Australia (government), Attorney Generals Department (academic institution), Pacific Communitys (development agency), Sydney University (academic institution), UNEP (multilateral agency) and GRID Arendal (foundation).
Ocean Basins
  • South Pacific
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Liz Brierley, Pacific Fisheries and Oceans Specialist, Fisheries and Environment Section, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, liz.brierley@dfat.gov.au, +61 2 6261 9076
Canberra, Australia
Other SDGs
United Nations