Joint management of the extended continental shelf of the Mascarene Plateau | 04 July 2019
Delegates from Mauritius, Seychelles review progress
Delegates from Mauritius and Seychelles involved in the joint management of the extended continental shelf of the Mascarene Plateau yesterday met for their 18th joint commission meeting at Coral Strand hotel.
Prior to the joint commission meeting yesterday, the delegations held a two-day technical committee meeting from July 1-2.
The joint commission meeting was held to discuss and review progress made so far in the joint management of the continental shelf as well as deliberate and make decisions based on the discussions of the 23rd technical meeting.
The meetings are aimed at establishing the procedures that will need to be undertaken to ensure the smooth implementation of activities within the joint management area.
The extended continental shelf spans an area of about 396,000 km², of which Seychelles and Mauritius share a joint jurisdiction following the signature of two treaties in 2012.
This year’s joint management area meetings were co-chaired by Ambassador Jagdish Koonjul on Mauritius’ side and Philippe Michaud, special adviser in the Seychelles’ blue economy department.
Yesterday morning at the start of the joint commission meeting, Ambassador Koonjul and Mr Michaud signed and exchanged a report of the technical committee meeting.
Mr Michaud noted that, during the technical meeting, both sides pursued discussions on future research activities in the joint marine area, where they specifically discussed who will take part in these research expeditions as well as how to effectively share and use the information gained.
The joint management area has experienced over the past two years several activities and events, such as the signing of a Multi-Client Survey agreement with Spectrum, the NANSEN cruise, the UNDP-JMA Demonstration Project, the Korean Research Project, and soon the University of Hamburg Research project
The meeting also included discussions regarding an agreement signed with a company to carry out a seismic survey which has encountered a delay in starting out.
“Above all things, we are most optimistic on the possibilities for oil discovery and its potential exploitation. The seismic research is expected to assess this possibility,” Mr Michaud remarked while also adding that fish and other natural resources located on the seafloor could also be exploited by the two island states.
The treaties signed underscores that economic revenues gained from the extended continental shelf should be shared equally between Seychelles and Mauritius.
Among other points discussed was the creation of a draft of legal instruments that will effectively guide the laws of the joint management area such as the Fiscal and Taxation Code.
“Given that the zone is co-managed by both countries, it means that neither the laws of Seychelles nor that of Mauritius can be applied to it. We need a common law specifically for the zone,” Mr Michaud explained.
“And since there are not many precedence of a jointly managed continental shelf in the world, we need to write up this law to take into consideration this extraordinary aspect.”
He noted that, in that regards, the joint committee has received technical support from the Commonwealth to draft these laws which will have to be domesticated in both countries.
“The co-management of this zone is a difficult one to undertake since it is one of the first in the world. So we have to work with various complex issues and it took us a few years to agree on how to go about this co-management,” Ambassador Koonjul stressed.
Discussion on the joint management area are expected to continue today through the fourth UNDP-JMA (joint management area) demonstration project steering committee meeting aiming to inform members of progress and further discuss arising matters.
The following day, on Friday, a JMA Demonstration Project Inception Workshop will also be held with the aim to seek a consensus among the stakeholders from Mauritius and Seychelles on what the preferred future vision should be for the JMA/MSP (marine spatial plan) project and what the scale and scope of the overall JMA MSP project should be.