Ashmore and Cartier Islands

Last updated

Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands
Australia in its region (Ashmore and Cartier Islands special).svg
Location of the Ashmore and Cartier Islands
Geography
Location Indian Ocean
Coordinates Coordinates: 12°15′30″S123°02′30″E / 12.25833°S 123.04167°E / -12.25833; 123.04167
Major islands4
Administration
Demographics
Population0 (1 January 2011)
Ashmore and Cartier Islands AshmoreandCartierIslands.png
Ashmore and Cartier Islands

The Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands [1] is an uninhabited external territory [2] of Australia consisting of four low-lying tropical islands in two separate reefs, and the 12-nautical-mile (22 km; 14 mi) territorial sea generated by the islands. [3] The territory is located in the Indian Ocean situated on the edge of the continental shelf, about 320 km (199 mi) off the northwest coast of Australia and 144 km (89 mi) south of the Indonesian island of Rote. [3]

Contents

Ashmore Reef is called Pulau Pasir by Indonesians and Nusa Solokaek in the Rotenese language. Both names have the meaning "sand island". [4]

Geography

The Territory comprises Ashmore Reef, which includes West, Middle, and East Islands, and two lagoons, and Cartier Reef, which includes Cartier Island. Ashmore Reef covers approximately 583 km2 (225.1 sq mi) and Cartier Reef 167 km2 (64 sq mi), both measurements extending to the limits of the reefs. [5]

West, Middle, and East Islands have a combined land area variously reported as 54 ha, 93 ha, and 112 ha (1 hectare is 0.01 km2, or about 2.5 acres). [6] [7] [8] Cartier Island has a reported land area of 0.4 ha. [7]

History

According to Australian literature [9] , Cartier Island was discovered by Captain Nash in 1800, and named after his ship Cartier. Ashmore Island was discovered by Captain Samuel Ashmore in 1811 from his ship HMS Hibernia and named after him. Ashmore Island was annexed by the United Kingdom in 1878, as was Cartier Island in 1909. [10]

A British order-in-council dated 23 July 1931 stated that Ashmore and Cartier Islands would be placed under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia when Australia passed legislation to accept them. The Commonwealth's resulting Ashmore and Cartier Islands Acceptance Act 1933 came into operation on 10 May 1934, when the islands formally became a territory. The act authorised the Governor of Western Australia to make ordinances for the territory. In July 1938 the territory was annexed to the Northern Territory, then also administered by the Commonwealth, whose[ which? ] laws, ordinances and regulations applied to the Territory[ which? ]. When self-government was granted to the Northern Territory on 1 July 1978, administration of Ashmore and Cartier Islands was retained by the Commonwealth. [3] [11]

In 1983 the territory was declared a nature reserve under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975, [3] now replaced by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. [12]

After the islands became a first point of contact with the Australian migration zone, in September 2001, the Australian government excised the Ashmore and Cartier Islands from the Australian migration zone. [3]

Indonesian heritage and memorandum

Ashmore has been regularly visited and fished by Indonesian fishermen since the early eighteenth century. A 1974 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Australia and Indonesia sets out arrangements by which traditional fishers can access resources in Australia's territorial sea in the region. This allows traditional Indonesian fishermen to access parts of Ashmore for shelter, freshwater and to visit grave sites. The area, known as the MOU Box, contains the Ashmore and Cartier Islands Territory. [13]

Some Indonesian groups claim Ashmore Reef to be part of Rote Ndao Regency of East Nusa Tenggara province.[ citation needed ]

Governance

Today, the Territory is administered from Canberra by the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, which is also responsible for the administration of the territories of Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea Islands, Jervis Bay Territory and Norfolk Island. [14]

The Attorney-General's Department had been responsible for the administration of Australian territories until the 2010 federal election. In that year the responsibility for Australian territories was transferred to the then Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport, [3] and from 18 September 2013 the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development has administered Australian territories.

Defence of Ashmore and Cartier Islands is the responsibility of Australia, with periodic visits by the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Air Force and Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

Nearby Hibernia Reef, 42 km (26 mi) northeast of Ashmore Reef, is not part of the Territory, but belongs to Western Australia. [15] It has no permanently dry land area, although large parts of the reef become exposed during low tide.

Environment and protection

Cartier Island and surrounding reef (NASA satellite image) Cartier Island.png
Cartier Island and surrounding reef (NASA satellite image)

Economy

There is no economic activity in the Territory, Ashmore and Cartier Islands being uninhabited. Cartier Island is an unvegetated sand island. [7] Access to Cartier Island is prohibited because of the risk of unexploded ordnances. There are no ports or harbours, only offshore anchorage. The customs vessel ACV Ashmore Guardian is stationed off the reef for up to 330 days per year. [16] The islands are also visited by seasonal caretakers and occasional scientific researchers.

The area has been a traditional fishing ground of Indonesian fishermen for centuries, and continues. In the 1850s, American whalers operated in the region. Mining of phosphate deposits took place on Ashmore Island in the latter half of the 19th century. [3] Today, all the wells in the Territory are infected with cholera or contaminated and undrinkable. [17]

Petroleum extraction activities take place at the Jabiru and Challis oil fields, which are adjacent to the Territory, and which are administered by the Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy on behalf of the Commonwealth. [3]

Migration

As Ashmore Reef is the closest point of Australian territory to Indonesia, it was a popular target for people smugglers transporting asylum seekers en route to Australia. [18] Once they had landed on Ashmore Island, asylum seekers could claim to have entered Australian migration zone and request to be processed as refugees. The use of Ashmore Island for this purpose created great notoriety during late 2001, when refugee arrivals became a major political issue in Australia. The Australian Government argued that as Australia was not the country of first asylum for these "boat people", Australia did not have a responsibility to accept them.

A number of things were done to discourage the use of the Territory for this purpose, such as attempting to have the people smugglers arrested in Indonesia; the so-called Pacific Solution of processing them in third countries; the boarding and forced turnaround of the boats by Australian military forces; and finally excising the Territory and many other small islands from the Australian migration zone.

Two boatloads of asylum seekers were each detained for several days in the lagoon at Ashmore Island after failed attempts by the Royal Australian Navy to turn them back to Indonesia in October 2001.

See also

Related Research Articles

Coral Sea Islands Australian external territory

The Coral Sea Islands Territory is an external territory of Australia which comprises a group of small and mostly uninhabited tropical islands and reefs in the Coral Sea, northeast of Queensland, Australia. The only inhabited island is Willis Island. The territory covers 780,000 km2 (301,160 sq mi), most of which is ocean, extending east and south from the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef and includes Heralds Beacon Island, Osprey Reef, the Willis Group and fifteen other reef/island groups. Cato Island is the highest point in the Territory.

Protected areas of Australia

Protected areas of Australia include Commonwealth and off-shore protected areas managed by the Australian government, as well as protected areas within each of the six states of Australia and two self-governing territories, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, which are managed by the eight state and territory governments.

Jervis Bay Territory Territory of the Commonwealth of Australia

The Jervis Bay Territory is a territory of the Commonwealth of Australia. It was surrendered by the state of New South Wales to the Commonwealth Government in 1915 so that the Australian Capital Territory would have access to the sea.

A marine park is a park consisting of an area of sea sometimes protected for recreational use, but more often set aside to preserve a specific habitat and ensure the ecosystem is sustained for the organisms that exist there. Most marine parks are designated by governments, and organized like 'watery' national parks.

Suspected Irregular Entry Vessel (SIEV) was the operational term used by the Australian Defence Force and Australian Coastwatch for maritime vessels which appear to be attempting to reach Australia clandestinely.

The Australian migration zone is a legal device created by the Australian government for the purpose of Australia's visa policy and immigration policy, as the territory in which Australia’s visa policy applies. The Australian migration zone covers such Australian controlled territories as the government may determine. Prior to 2001, the Australian migration zone consisted of the mainland, and some external territories. Norfolk Island, for example, was not part of the Australian migration zone until 2016. Under Australia’s universal visa policy, a non-citizen must hold an Australian visa within the Australian migration zone. Without such a visa, or a bridging visa, the non-citizen is an unlawful non-citizen and treated as an “unauthorised arrival". However, the main impact of the migration zone is that unauthorised arrivals outside the zone have very limited access for review by Australian courts.

Cartier Island island in the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, an external territory of Australia

Cartier Island is an uninhabited and unvegetated sand cay in a platform reef in the Timor Sea north of Australia and south of Indonesia. It is within the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, an external territory of Australia. The land area of Cartier Island is about 0.4 hectares. It is located at 12°31′S123°33′E, on the edge of the Sahul Shelf, about 300 kilometres (190 mi) off the north west coast of Western Australia, 200 kilometres (120 mi) south of the Indonesian island of Roti, and 70 kilometres (43 mi) south-east of Ashmore Reef.

States and territories of Australia first-level subdivision of Australia

Government in the Commonwealth of Australia is exercised on three levels: federal, states and territories, and local government.

Shire of Cocos Local government area in Australia

The Shire of Cocos (Keeling) Islands is a local government area which manages local affairs on the Australian external territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. The island is grouped with Western Australia but is administered by the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities and an Administrator.

Marine Unit (Australian Border Force)

The Marine Unit, formerly the Australian Customs Service National Marine Unit, is a division of the Australian Border Force which acts as a Coast Guard in guarding Australia's coast. The Marine Unit focuses on surveillance and response activities within the Australian Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ), and the operation and training of ships and crews to do so.

East Island (Ashmore and Cartier Islands) island in Ashmore Reef in the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, an external territory of Australia

East Island is one of three islets of Ashmore Reef, which is a part of Ashmore and Cartier Islands. It is located at 12°15′S123°05′E, about midway between Australia and Timor. It is often referred to as East Islet, a name that is used, for example, in The World Factbook; the islet's gazetted name is, however, East Island.

Geography of Australia Geographic features of Australia

The geography of Australia encompasses a wide variety of biogeographic regions being the world's smallest continent but the sixth-largest country in the world. The population of Australia is concentrated along the eastern and southeastern coasts. The geography of the continent is extremely diverse, ranging from the snow-capped mountains of the Australian Alps and Tasmania to large deserts, tropical and temperate forests.

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) is the Australian Government agency responsible for the management and sustainable use of fisheries resources including combating illegal fishing activities in the Australian Fishing Zone that covers 8,148,250 square kilometres, the third largest in the world, and in most of Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone, which extends to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coastline of Australia and its external territories, except where a maritime delimitation agreement exists with a state.) AFMA is an agency of the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. The Authority does not have a legal identity separate from the Commonwealth.

Sir Joseph Banks Group Conservation Park Protected area in South Australia

Sir Joseph Banks Group Conservation Park is a protected area in the Australian state of South Australia located on the Sir Joseph Banks Group in Spencer Gulf about 25 kilometres (16 mi) east-northeast of Port Lincoln. The conservation park of which specific islands had been previously declared as Flora and Fauna Reserves under statutes in force prior to 1972, was proclaimed in 1972 under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972. It was declared ‘primarily for the conservation of Cape Barren geese, and to protect marine mammal habitat’. As of 1996, the conservation park did not include Spilsby island which is privately owned and ‘lighthouse reserves’ on other islands while the following islands have been added post-declaration - Reevesby Island which was added in 1974 and Dangerous Reef which was added in 1989. The conservation park was subsequently extended to include the waters within 2 nautical miles (4 km) of the shoreline of all islands in the group and Dangerous Reef via a declaration under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 for the purpose of regulating and managing great white shark berleying activities. The conservation park is classified as an IUCN Category Ia protected area.

MOU Box

The MOU Box, or sometimes the MOU 74 Box, refers to a rectangular tract of marine waters in the Timor Sea, lying within Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone, that is subject to a 1974 memorandum of understanding, and subsequent agreements, between Australia and Indonesia. The MOU Box covers an area of about 50,000 km2 including Scott and Seringapatam Reefs, Browse Island, and Ashmore and Cartier Islands. Australia declared a marine protected area around Ashmore Island in 1983, and around Cartier Island in 2000.

Australian marine parks are marine protected areas located within Australian waters and are managed by the Australian government. These waters generally extend from three nautical miles off the coast to the outer limit of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone at 200 nautical miles while marine protected areas located closer in-shore are the responsibility of the states or the Northern Territory.

The Coral Sea Marine Park is an Australian marine park located in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland. The marine park covers an area of 989,836 km2 (382,178 sq mi) and is assigned IUCN category IV. It is Australia's largest single marine park and is one of the world's largest protected areas.

The Lord Howe Marine Park is an Australian marine park located about 550 km (340 mi) offshore of New South Wales, near Lord Howe Island. The marine park covers an area of 110,126 km2 (42,520 sq mi), encompassing the smaller Lord Howe Island Marine Park, and is assigned IUCN category IV. It is one of 8 parks managed under the Temperate East Marine Parks Network.

The Cartier Island Marine Park is an Australian marine park that covers the Cartier Island and reef surrounds, about 610 km (380 mi) north of Broome, Western Australia. The marine park covers an area of 172 km2 (66 sq mi) and is assigned IUCN category Ia. It is one of the 13 parks managed under the North-west Marine Parks Network.

The Ashmore Reef Marine Park is an Australian marine park that covers the Ashmore Reef, which is located about 630 km (390 mi) north of Broome and 110 km (68 mi) south of the Indonesian island of Rote. The marine park covers an area of 583 km2 (225 sq mi) and is assigned IUCN category Ia. It is one of 13 parks managed under the North-west Marine Parks Network.

References

Notes

  1. The Central Intelligence Agency (2010). The World Factbook. Potomac Books, Inc. p. 39. ISBN   978-1-59797-541-4.
  2. "10: External territories". Legal Risk in International Transactions (ALRC Report 80). Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC), Australian Government. 2006. ISBN   0642254877 . Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Ashmore and Cartier Islands". Territories of Australia. Department of the Infrastructure and Regional Development, Australian Government. 29 January 2014. Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  4. "A STUDY OF SOCIO-ECONOMIC ISSUES FACING TRADITIONAL INDONESIAN FISHERS WHO ACCESS THE MOU BOX" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 August 2006.
  5. Australia, Geoscience. "Ashmore and Cariter Islands". Australian Government Geoscience Australia. Australian Government. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  6. Carter, Mike; Clarke, Rohan; Pierce, Frank; Dooley, Sean; Swann, George; Grant, Murray (2010). "Lesser Coucal 'Centropus bengalensis' on Ashmore Reef: First Record for Australia". Australian Field Ornithology. 27 (3). ISSN   1448-0107. Within the reef are three small islands: West, Middle and east Islands (total land area 54 ha). The largest and most heavily vegetated is West Island...
  7. 1 2 3 Taylor & Francis Group (2004). The Europa World Year Book 2004 (45th ed.). Europa Publications, Taylor & Francis Group. p. 611. ISBN   978-1-85743-254-1.
  8. "Ashmore Reef National Nature Reserve and Cartier Island Marine Reserve". Marine Protected Areas. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Australian Government. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011.
  9. "Pulau Pasir (Ashmore Reef) belongs to Indonesia" . Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  10. Luscombe, Stephen (2019). "Ashmore and Cartier Islands". The British Empire. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  11. Year Book Australia, 1981, p.2
  12. Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
  13. "Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island Commonwealth Marine Reserves: Information for visitors" (PDF). Commonwealth of Australia 2014. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  14. Assistant Director, Territories and Disaster Reconstruction Division (16 June 2012). "Territories of Australia". Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport. Archived from the original on 11 February 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2008.
  15. "States of Australia". p. Administrative Divisions of Countries. Retrieved 23 June 2011.
  16. "Australian Customs Vessel Ashmore Guardian" (PDF). Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.
  17. "Bizarre Happenings at Reef". Navy News. Royal Australian Navy. 28 June 1999. Archived from the original on 27 May 2013. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  18. Anita Roberts "Don't let them drown" Inside Indonesia Apr–Jun 2001, vol. 64