Mauritius: In the context of the 25th Meeting of Mauritius-Seychelles Joint Commission of the Extended Continental Shelf and 30th Technical Committee Meeting of the Joint Commission, which is being held from 17 to 19 July 2023, both parties from Mauritius and Seychelles met intending to take stock of the progress made so far as regards the joint management of the continental shelf, today, at the seat of the Department of Continental Shelf, Maritime Zones Administration and Exploration in Port Louis.
The Meeting focused on deliberations and decision-making about the discussions of the Joint Commission’s 24th Meeting. It is recalled that the Joint Management Area (JMA) of the Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) of the Mascarene Plateau was formally established in 2012 by signing a treaty between the two countries.
The Secretary co-chaired the Meeting to Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service, Premode Neerunjun, and Ambassador Kenneth Racombo from Seychelles.
The Permanent Representative of Mauritius to the United Nations, Jagdish Dharamchand Koonjul; the Director General of the Department for Continental Shelf, Maritime Zones Administration and Exploration, Dr Rezah Badal; the Special Adviser to the Prime Minister, Nayen Koomar Ballah; as well as representatives from the Republic of Seychelles were present.
In his opening remarks, Neerunjun said that this silver jubilee meeting is an occasion to look back at past and future successes and have new impetus in making things happen for the JMA.
He also lauded the fruitful collaboration between Mauritius and Seychelles over the JMA, adding that throughout the years, the friendship between the two countries has matured and reinforced further.
He spoke of the progress made by the Joint Technical Committee and highlighted that Seychelles would soon begin a first study for exploratory fishery on sea cucumber. He also dwelt on the new Strategic Plan 2023-2028, which has been prepared.
The goal of having a Strategic Plan, he added, is to ensure that maritime activities in the JMA are implemented rationally and sustainably, allowing the optimum utilisation of the resources for the benefit of the people of the Republic of Seychelles and the Republic of Mauritius.
For his part, Ambassador Racombo extended his appreciation to the Mauritian Government and added that both countries have overcome numerous challenges and witnessed significant progress together, reflecting the strength of their friendship and a shared vision for the optimal governance of the JMA.
He also spoke of the need for further research in the JMA and robust scientific data, which is needed to manage our oceanic resources effectively. According to him, financial constraints often pose a challenge for SIDS and hence the need to be strategic in resource mobilisation tactics and to ensure that sovereign rights over the natural resources in the JMA are upheld and that actions are directed towards the sustainable development and long-term prosperity of ocean resources.
The importance of investing in the right human resources and ensuring the inclusiveness and active involvement of the youth were also highlighted by Ambassador Racombo.
For his part, Dr Badal highlighted that discussions during the Meeting focused on sea cucumber exploratory fisheries, the Carbon Credit Projects, and human resources. He added that the Joint Demonstration Project, a joint information system between Mauritius and Seychelles, is a major project that aims to build technical and management capacity in support of Marine Spatial Planning and the effective management of the JMA.
Speaking about the new Strategic Plan, he said it will be published shortly and focus on new targets and objectives for the next five years. The emphasis, he added, will be on human capacity, access to information and data, technology, conservation, and development, amongst others.
Before the Meeting, Ambassador Koonjul and the Consultant from the Ministry of Fisheries and Blue Economy from Seychelles and Co-chair of the Technical Committee, Mr Philippe Michaud, proceeded with the signing of minutes of the Technical Meeting.
It is recalled that in December 2008, Mauritius and Seychelles, both parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, made a joint submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf for an extended continental shelf beyond their respective 200 nautical miles of Exclusive Economic Zones in the region of the Mascarene Plateau. In March 2011, Mauritius and Seychelles were jointly conferred jurisdiction upon the joint area of the extended continental shelf.
Seychelles and Mauritius signed two treaties in 2012 to share the management of the continental shelf of the Mascarene Plateau. The first pertains to the joint exercise of sovereign rights by Mauritius and Seychelles on the continental shelf. The second deals with the management of the seabed of the continental shelf.