The United Nations Convention on the Limits of the Continental Shelf of the Mascareigne Plateau has approved the joint submission of Mauritius-Seycheylles for the extension of their continental shelves beyond the 200 nautical miles of both countries’ exclusive economic zones.
Both Mauritius and Seychelles would have the opportunity to exploit the marine resources in an additional maritime zone of 396,000 square kms on the Mascareigne Plateau.
The agreement opens up new perspectives of cooperation between the two coastal states in matters of environmental protection, exploration and marine resources management, including minerals and hydrocarburants.
The joint committee for the management of the extended zone would define the role of the exploitation and exploration of the additional zone under the supervision of the Secretariat of the Commonwealth.
The negotiations for the extension of the continental shelf of Mauritius began in 2000 following which the Mauritius Oceanographic Intitute (MOI) was set up.
The MOI was asked to submit a document to the United Nations Commission on the extension of the continental shelf following which two geophysical surveys were carried out in 2003 in the Mascareignes Plateau regions and the Chagos Archipelagos to obtain bathymetrics and seismic data.
The Mauritian government made a formal request to the Republic of Seychelles for a new approach. Both coastal states started formal negotiations for the extension of the continental shelf in 2008.
The United Nations was informed of the negotiations for the first time in 2008 following which a team of technicians, lawyers and scientists from both countries collaborated to prepare a joint submission to the UN.