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SEYCHELLES AND MAURITIUS JOINTLY SECURE EXTENDED CONTINENTAL SHELF IN THE MASCARENE REGION

29.04.2011

President James Michel has congratulated the Seychelles and Mauritian delegations for the successful outcome of the joint submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf for the delineation and jurisdiction of the extended continental shelf of 396,000 sq. kilometres in the Mascarene region, found outside the border of the Seychelles and Mauritian Exclusive Economic Zones.

Seychelles received official notification today from the Secretariat of the United Nations – Division for the Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs that the Commission has adopted the recommendations following the Joint Submission .

“This is a significant achievement for Seychelles and Mauritius. It is the first time two small island states in the Indian Ocean present a joint submission, and successfully collaborate to build this major bridge in delimitation of their maritime territories. This is another victory for Seychelles! It shows how we can develop our relations with our island neighbors for the mutual benefit of our peoples and ensure the future sustainable exploitation of marine and mineral resources,” said President Michel.

The President noted that Seychelles and Mauritius will be discussing the management and administration of the 396,000 sq. kilometers area of Extended Continental Shelf over which both countries now have jurisdiction in terms of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

A comprehensive legal framework to provide a mechanism for Seychelles and Mauritius to jointly manage and administer the newly acquired Joint Zone of Jurisdiction is currently under final stages of discussions by the two countries.

The recommendations of the Joint Submission, which are contained in a 59 page and document were received from the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, are based on the Joint Submission made by Seychelles and Mauritius lodged with the UN body on 1st December 2008. The Joint Submission was thereafter examined in detail by a Sub commission of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf specially appointed for this purpose.

Following several interactions between the Sub commission with the Joint Delegation of Seychelles and Mauritius, the case for an extended continental Shelf in the Mascarene Plateau Region went through the final defence stage earlier this year and the recommendations were finally adopted by the plenary on 30th March 2011.  Seychelles and Mauritius jointly made the final presentation at the plenary on the 29th March 2011.

In summary, these recommendations mean that Seychelles and Mauritius have sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting (including preservation of )  natural resources over a clearly delineated area of 396,000 sq. kilometers of seabed and subsoil in the Mascarene Plateau Region. 

These rights are exclusive in the sense that if Seychelles and Mauritius jointly do not explore the Extended Continental Shelf or exploit its natural resources, no one may undertake these activities without the express consent of the two States. The natural resources consist of the mineral and other non-living resources of the seabed and subsoil together with living organisms belonging to sedimentary species.

Editor’s Note

This major scientific project was developed by a technical team appointed by the Seychelles Government to delimit Seychelles Maritime Spaces. The Special Adviser to the Minister of Land Use and Housing, Mr. Raymond ChangTave headed the Seychelles side of the delegation in New York and was complemented by other experts in Maritime Law and the Scientific and Technical Issues respectively as follows:

Lt. Col. Michael Rosette         -                       Specialist Hydrographer– Seychelles Coast Guards

Mr Joseph Athanasius             -                       Legal Consultant - private

Mrs Fiona Robinson                -                       Legal Consultant - private

Mr Selby Pillay                                    -                       Diplomat – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Mr Patrick Joseph                   -                       Geophysicist – Seychelles Petroleum Company Ltd

Mr Patrick Samson                 -                       Geologist - Seychelles Petroleum Company Ltd

Mr Francis Coeur de Lion       -                       GIS Expert – Ministry of Land Use and Housing

The Commonwealth Secretariat in London provided legal and technical assistance and the Consultants were:

Mr Joshua Brien                      -                       Legal

Mr Harald Brekke                   -                       Scientific and Technical

Prof Karl Hinz                          -                       Scientific and Technical

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