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SEYCHELLES AND MAURITIUS SIGN LANDMARK TREATIES FOR JOINT MANAGEMENT OF CONTINENTAL SHELF

13.03.2012

Seychelles President James Michel and Mauritian Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam have signed two important treaties today, to share the management of the continental shelf of the Mascarene Plateau Region. As a result Seychelles and Mauritius now have joint jurisdiction over an additional area of 396,000 sq. kilometers.

This followed a  meeting between the President and the Prime Minister, where they discussed several areas of cooperation, including Health, Education, Tourism and the fight against piracy.

“I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Prime Minister for your vision and great work that you have done to develop the country. I have seen tremendous development and progress since my last visit in 2005. Mauritius is moving fast with dynamism and together, we can collaborate for the benefit of our people,” said President Michel during the meeting.

President Michel commended the signature of the landmark agreements, and thanked the Government of Mauritius for working with Seychelles to achieve the historic partnership.

“It is really remarkable we have managed to achieve this together- it is the first time two countries have signed such an agreement without going through arbitration. We are also amongst the first countries to make a joint submission to the UN. And we did so well before the deadline. It is a extraordinary symbol of our genuine desire to work together as neighbours, as partners and friends, said President Michel following the signing.

The President said that the Mascarene Plateau Region will provide for the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of present and future generations as Seychelles and Mauritius exploit the resources of the ocean together.

“We believe that the ocean which surrounds us has immense potential for Small Island developing States as well as coastal states. We need to harness the power of the blue economy.  The Ocean unites us and therefore it is vital that as two neighbourly nations, we are able to access, manage and conserve resources of the ocean seabed and subsoil together.”

The first treaty proclaims the extended continental shelf outer limits in order to provide for its recognition under the respective national laws and for the extended purposes of international law which entails depositing the coordinates and charts showing the outer limit boundaries of the Extended Continental Shelf.

The second treaty provides an overarching framework for the establishment of a joint management (structure and mechanism) for the joint administration and management of the Extended Continental shelf which is to be proclaimed under the first treaty.

Editor’s Note

Background on the two treaties

1. Discussions started in April 2002 when delegations of the two countries started to talk about the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zones Boundary and the Continental Shelf beneath.  This was concluded on 29th July 2008 when the Boundary Protocol was signed by the two countries here in Mauritius, following which the necessity to discuss our Extended Continental Shelf claim and boundary surfaced. Owing to the overlapping claims, Seychelles made an important historical resolve to delineate our extended continental shelf in the Mascarene Plateau Region jointly with the Republic of Mauritius.

2. The ratification of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) by our two indicate a time frame of ten years from the date of ratification to lodge submissions for an Extended Continental Shelf where such shelf exists in accordance with international law.

3. Seychellois technical teams conducted some twenty meetings alternately in Seychelles and in Mauritius followed by other meetings in New York to prepare the Joint Submission for the Extended Continental Shelf. This was lodged on 1st December 2008 with the Secretary General of the United Nations (within the time limit set in the Convention for our submission).

4. Following the joint formal presentation to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in March 2009 and subsequent dialogue during the years 2010 and 2011, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf made positive recommendations to Seychelles and Mauritius on 30th March 2011.  As such Seychelles and Mauritius joint jurisdiction over an area of 396,000 sq. kilometers of continental shelf (seabed and subsoil) located in the Mascarene Plateau Region was confirmed.

5. Technical support was received from the Commonwealth Secretariat in the task to delimit the Extended Continental Shelf.

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