Land Below High Water Mark Reference

This reference requires the Commission to report to the Minister on the following:

  • The current legal position regarding ownership/control of beaches/shores and land below high water mark and low water mark.
  • The true position of ownership of beaches/shores and land below high water mark and low water mark.
  • Right of use of beaches/shores and land below high water mark and low water mark in custom.
  • The pros and cons pertaining to the current legal position in this regard.
  • Changes in the law to reflect the true aspirations of the people of the Solomon Islands.

The Commission started work on this reference in 2009, and a Consultation Paper was released in October 2009. Download the PDF version ( pdf Consultation Paper on the land below high water mark and low water mark (155 KB) ).

Consultations were held from late 2009 to 2011.  Consultation has included meetings in all provinces, a day-long workshop was conducted on February 9th 2011 at Mendana Hotel, Honiara for Honiara stakeholders attended by around 40 participants.  Joseph Foukona, a Solomon Islander and Law lecturer based in Vanuatu USP School of Law gave the keynote address on “The Legal reality of customary tenure ‘land and marine’ in Solomon Islands. The workshop was co-funded by Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI Law and Justice Unit.

Research in Port Vila, Vanuatu and in Suva, Fiji, was carried out in September 2011 to get first hand information about the mechanisms in place to address use and ownership claims and development on  land below high water mark.

The Commission has received 74 submissions on this review.

Full list of References given to the LRC by Minister for Justice and Legal Affairs


Year given

Section 5C of the Forest Resources and Timber Utilisation Act.



Marriage and divorce law (including the Islanders’ Marriage Act and the Pacific Islands Civil Marriages Order 1907).



Building Code


Review of the law relating to the treatment of mental patients



Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code



Law of Treason (including Part VII of the Penal Code)



Law of Sedition



Law, including customary law,  that applies to land below high water and low water mark



Customs and Excise Act & penalty provisions in Customs and Excise Act (two references)


1995 & 1996

United Kingdom laws of general application in Solomon Island



          2012 Land Below High and Low Water Mark  Report PDF version ( pdf Review of the Law that Applies to Land Below High Water Mark and Low Water Mark (3.28 MB) ).

Print Email