PIMLA fact file


PIMLA is the principal forum for legal professionals in the Pacific Islands maritime sector to discuss and pursue legal maritime issues of concern to the region; advise international or regional entities and national governments and to enhance the uniformity and harmonisation of maritime practices; and promote legal maritime capacity building.

PIMLA aims to promote legal maritime interests within the region through advocacy roles and dissemination of information to relevant legal counterparts. The Secretariat of the Pacific Community's (SPC) Regional Maritime Programme (RMP) is the focal point for coordinating the approved plan of action.  This pool of maritime legal resource persons is of great benefit to Pacific Island countries.

PIMLA assists SPC through RMP, other regional organisations and national institutions in the implementation of obligations under International maritime conventions.


The promulgation of relevant international maritime conventions or mainly international instruments for that matter within the Pacific region has been slow for some Pacific Island Countries (PICs) and that is generally due to lack of resources and expertise, lack of public awareness and little or no political will. It is critical for all PICs to have in place robust and updated domestic legislation that incorporate relevant IMO conventions and other relevant international instruments and they need to be enforced as well.

PICs cannot afford to be left behind in the ever-changing maritime sector with shipping being international by nature and crucial for transportation and trade within the region. Presently, there are 18 professional maritime lawyers in the region who are graduates of the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) in Malta: Fiji (4); Tonga (1); New Zealand (1); Tuvalu (1); Vanuatu (2); PNG (4); Marshall Islands (1); Solomon Islands (1); and Samoa (3).The expertise available needs to be tapped into for the benefit of the region.

As a way forward, the Regional Maritime Programme organised and funded a meeting of the IMLI alumni in the Pacific on 12 July 2005, thus, enabling the lawyers to convene and deliberate on how they wished to proceed. This meeting ultimately resulted in the formation of Pacific International Maritime Law Association (PIMLA) on 12 July, 2005. Professor David Attard, Director of IMLI is quoted to have said this about PIMLA: “This is indeed a remarkable initiative that in many respects is a first of its kind. It perfectly encapsulates the Institute’s raison d’etre by congregating like minded persons to work and contribute towards a common goal: the better governance of the sea, albeit within a regional or sub-regional context”. PIMLA was officially launched during the annual Pacific Islands Legal Officers Meeting (PILOM) in Port Vila, Vanuatu in September 2005.


The Association has an Executive Committee which consists of the Association Chair and a maximum of four Executive Committee members, of which three are regular members and one is an associate member elected by the plenary at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) by virtue of her/his office. The Association has four Trustees who hold office for a period of three years. The Regional Maritime Programme provides secretariat and treasury functions, in an ex-officio capacity, to the Association.


There are two categories of membership; regular and associate. Regular membership extends to IMLI graduates and maritime lawyers from the Pacific region. Associate membership extends to any person who applies in writing to the Secretary of the Association and has his/her application approved and accepted by the Association. There have already expression of interests to join PIMLA from lawyers and other professionals within the region which include entities and non governmental organisations such as Maritime Law Association of Australia and New Zealand (MLAANZ) and Comite of Maritime Internationale(CMI).


RMP works closely with The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Faculty of Islands and Oceans in matters of, inter alia, guest lecturing. A similar concept is considered by PIMLA. IMLI students have the privilege of being tutored by experts from different parts of the world who present quality lectures on various areas of maritime law, hence, PIMLA members can assist USP by being guest lecturers for relevant modules and in so doing, share their experiences and knowledge with students from legal or marine studies. The beauty of this is that a person from the Pacific would be tutoring his/her own people. A newly introduced maritime law paper at the school of law in Vanuatu has already been a great success and it will need more input from the likes of PIMLA members and other maritime experts in the region to increase awareness and to pass knowledge on to students who wish to develop a career in the maritime sector.


The extensive training programme offered at IMLI covered a comprehensive area of international maritime law and the beneficiaries from within the region collectively comprise a pool of experts. Their training plus working experiences in various jurisdictions can be summed up in the following areas inter alia:
• International Law of the Sea which cover areas amongst others such as Conservation and Management of Fisheries which involve training of law enforcement personnel on foreign fishing vessel investigations, drafting of fisheries and related maritime legislations, fisheries negotiations, regional and national policies on fisheries violations, foreign fishing vessel operations and logistics, mounting fisheries prosecution cases;  International Seabed Authority and its implications on PICs and preparations for negotiations on Maritime Boundaries Delimitation which include provision of policy legal advice, development of negotiating briefs and assisting in negotiations;
• International Marine Environmental Law which cover incorporation of various international instruments on pollution prevention and extent of liabilities and compensation;
• International Maritime Security Law;
• Shipping Law which cover areas amongst others such as Maritime Labour Law, Marine Insurance, Law of Salvage and handling of wrecks, Maritime Safety and Carriage of Goods by Sea; and
• Drafting Maritime legislations adopting IMO/ILO and other relevant international instruments.

For further information please feel free to contact Mr Fagaloa LSR Tufuga, Maritime Legal Officer, SPC/RMP, Private Mail Bag, Suva, Fiji

< Prev