Seychelles is seeking to establish a law that will domesticate three codes set up under the Joint Management Area, which the island nation shares equal jurisdiction with Mauritius, said a top government official.
The statement was made by the Minister for Fisheries and the Blue Economy, Jean Francois Ferrari, on Tuesday, during his presentation on the Joint Management Area.
The JMA is the mechanism of joint jurisdiction between Seychelles and Mauritius over an area of the seabed and its underlying subsoil in the Mascarene Plateau Region. It excludes the water and living organisms above the shelf.
Two treaties were signed in 2012 and the two island nations secured rights to additional seabed covering around 400,000 square kilometres in the Indian Ocean.
The first treaty proclaims the extended continental shelf outer limits in order to provide for its recognition under the respective national laws and the second treaty provides an overarching framework for the establishment of a joint management of the extended continental shelf, which is to be proclaimed under the first treaty.
Ferrari said that under the JMA, Seychelles and Mauritius have established three legal codes – marine research, joint fiscal and taxation, and environmental codes of practice.
“There is now a necessity to domesticate the three legal codes and integrate them with the two international treaties. This will create one legal document that will address all concerns relating to the JMA,” he explained.
The minister said that these codes need to be incorporated into the laws of both Seychelles and Mauritius.
“For this, we will need the support of the National Assembly to facilitate and complete this process otherwise the codes will remain without the force of the law,” said Ferrari.
He added that “for Seychelles to have a continental zone outside of its Exclusive Economic Zone is a big advantage because it creates a new source for the diversification of our economy and presents and offers several opportunities from which the country can reap some benefits.”
He gave the example of the cucumber fish research Seychelles has launched at Saya de Malha.
“There is also the opportunity for studying and employment in areas like marine science, ocean management, and geology. There is also the potential for projects like marine biotechnology and specialist in marine conservation,” he added.
Ferrari said that at this point “it is necessary for us to work on a marine spatial plan framework that will guide the activities that will be practiced and also reinforce the scientific practices that deal with the preservation of our marine ecosystem and development in the JMA.”
The members of the National Assembly had the opportunity to seek clarification and additional information on the proposed Bill that is expected to come before them for approval.