Seychelles/Mauritius extended continental shelf in the Mascarene plateau-Joint commission holds first meeting


The Seychelles (left) and Mauritius delegations at the meeting yesterday

Among the topics of discussions was the institutional and regulatory arrangements in order for the two countries to exercise joint sovereign rights over this area of the sea bed.

This first joint management commission meeting was held at the Ministry of Land Use and Habitat, Independence House. The commission is part of a three-tiered joint administrative structure set up to manage the extended continental shelf so that Seychelles and Mauritius can benefit from its resources.

A ministerial council and a designated authority will also form part of this new structure.

Land Use and Habitat Minister Christian Lionnet officially launched the three-day meeting in the presence of the Seychelles head of delegation Raymond Chang-Tave, who is also the special adviser in this ministry. The Mauritius delegation is being led by Suresh Seeballuck, who is the secretary to the cabinet and head of the civil service.

Others present were representatives from the Ministry of Finance, Trade and Investment, the Ministry of Environment and Energy and other bodies like Petro-Seychelles.

Mr Lionnet recalled that the joint management treaty of the continental shelf in the Mascarene plateau region was signed by President James Michel and the Mauritius Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam in March this year.

He said the purpose of the joint commissioners’ meeting is to kick-start the process to enable both countries to benefit from the joint management of the area.

“This has the great advantage of enabling our two countries to benefit immediately from the joint exercise of sovereign rights, including rights to explore and exploit and also conserve natural resources of the extended continental shelf,” said Minister Lionnet.

He said in addition to this arrangement “we need to establish joint mechanisms to harmonise our respective laws”.

Mr Lionnet said work on the taxation code for the petroleum agreement has already started and “we also have to agree on matters concerning the desktop study to assess the potential and thereafter pave the way forward for further exploration and development of resources located in the seabed and subsoil of our continental shelf”.

Mr Seeballuck said since 2008 Seychelles and Mauritius have joined hands for the preparation of the joint submission for an extended continental shelf.

“A new era of cooperation, trust and mutual understanding between the two countries have emerged,” noted Mr Seeballuck.

“In New York the two delegations stood hand in hand before the United Nations commission on the limits of the continental shelf to defend our submission and no third party could make out that we were from different states,” he added.

Mr Seeballuck added that now that such a vast expanse of seabed has come under our joint jurisdiction, “we should look resolutely towards the future and ensure that this vast potential is put to good use for the benefit of our populations”.