Maritime boundary negotiations between Vanuatu and France, which include an unresolved dispute on the sovereignty over the Matthew Island and the Hunter Island, and their respective 190 000 sq km EEZ, are under way. Those islands are claimed by Vanuatu as part of its southernmost Tafea Province since 1929, but France claims them to be part of New Caledonia since 1976 (i.e. prior to Vanuatu’s independence in 1980). According to Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, New Caledonia’s Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste party coalition has now recognized the islands as part of “Vanuatu National Heritage”, opening the door for “dialogue and negotiation between Vanuatu Government and the Government of France on maritime boundaries”. These negotiations are set to happen amidst debate around the referendum on the independence of New Caledonia, scheduled May 2018. The full statement of Vanuatu’s Prime Minister may be found here.