Document Type

Journal Article


The South Pacific as a region has far more ocean space than land territory. The majority of small island States in the South Pacific are heavily dependent on the sea for their resources and livelihoods. While militaries in our region have recently been focussed on resolving the civil disorder generated by political unrest on land, in locations such as Bougainville, Solomon Islands and Fiji, navies have, for several decades, also had prevalent maritime law enforcement roles in the region, both advisory and operational. Threats to the security of the region from crime in the maritime domain will continue to arise requiring more effective and coordinated responses from navies, coastguards and other maritime law enforcement agencies. This paper examines some examples of actual and potential incidence of transnational crime in the maritime domain of the South Pacific region. It will review how well equipped the region is to combat these threats from an international law perspective analysing the adequacy of the current law of the sea framework for cooperative maritime surveillance and enforcement in the South Pacific region and other relevant bilateral and multilateral instruments. Finally it proposes areas for reform in the law of the sea framework and advances suggestions for more effective implementation of regional instruments such as the 1992 Niue Treaty on Cooperation in Fisheries Surveillance and Law Enforcement in the South Pacific and its subsidiary agreements.