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What is an Extended Continental Shelf (ECS)?

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Article 76, a coastal State can under certain geological conditions extend its territorial claim of the ocean floor and thus gain marine sovereignty rights beyond the 200 nautical mile limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Submission for an ECS of a coastal State needs to filled directly with the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) and must contain detailed marine geoscientific data describing the shape of the continental margin, the location of the foot of the continental slope and the thickness of the sedimentary rocks.

In the case of Mauritius-Seychelles Joint Submission, the limit of the outer edge of the continental margin was delineated by reference to a series of fixed points not more than 60 nautical miles from the foot of the continental slope (defined as the point of maximum change in gradient between the slope/rise and the base of the deep sea floor). The outer limits of the ECS on the seabed was then demarcated by applying the two constraints of 350 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured and 2500 metre isobath.

What are the rights of a coastal State over the ECS?

The coastal State exercises sovereign rights over the ECS with regard to the exploration and exploitation of non-living resources, including oil and gas deposit as well as other minerals, of the seabed and sub-soil and sedentary species but exclude rights over the water column and the living organisms above the shelf that are beyond its exclusive economic zone.


What is the Mauritius-Seychelles Joint Management Area?

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 (CLCS) for an extended continental shelf beyond their respective 200 nautical miles of Exclusive Economic Zones in the region of the Mascarene Plateau. The area comprises a vast extent of seabed and underlying marine subsoil of approximately 396 000 km2.

The CLCS appointed a sub-commission that examined the joint submission in 2009. Following extensive deliberations, the CLCS made its recommendations in March 2011 which resulted in Mauritius and Seychelles being jointly conferred the jurisdiction upon the joint area of extended continental shelf of 396 000 km2. 

This area lies beyond the boundaries of the two countries' exclusive economic zones, which opens the door to new opportunities for cooperation between the two countries, especially in terms of seabed resources with oil and gas, mineral deposits and living marine organisms. 

To translate this cooperation into reality, two treaties were signed in March 2012 during the visit to Mauritius of the President of Seychelles who was the guest of honour at the National Day celebrations. 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. It defines the modalities for exploration and exploitation of the living and non-living resources of the continental shelf, while providing a favorable framework for both countries to jointly and fairly manage the continental shelf.


What is Marine Spatial Planning?

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is an approach that uses the key components of ecosystem approach to the marine areas. This comprises of the analysis and allocation of the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in the marine areas to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives that have been usually specified through a political process.

The main purpose of an elaboration of a Marine Spatial Plan for the EEZ of the Republic of Mauritius is to identify the utilisation of marine space for different sea uses in accordance with national policies and legislation, while taking into consideration the preservation, protection and improvement of marine environment, including resilience to climate change impacts. It will also contribute to the effective management of marine activities and the sustainable use of marine and coastal resources through the creation of a framework for consistent, transparent, sustainable and evidence-based decision making. It is also in line with the implementation of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – SDG14.


What are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – SDG14?

The SDG 14 goal aim to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems from pollution, as well as address the impacts of ocean acidification. It comprises of the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. In this regard, a global indicator framework was developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert group on SDG Indicators and agreed to, as a practical starting point at the 47th session on the UN Statistical Commission held in March 2016. The targets indicators are summarised in the picture below.

The two main target indicators we are working on are:

14.2 By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans

14.5 By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information


What is a Marine Scientific Research (MSR)?

Marine scientific research means any research or study, whether fundamental or applied, intended to increase knowledge about marine environment, including all its resources and living organisms and embraces all related scientific activity for the benefit of mankind and for peaceful purposes.


How to apply for a MSR?

All applications for a MSR in the EEZ of Mauritius and the Mauritius-Seychelles JMA must be submitted to the Department six months prior to the proposed start of the project. Further details on the conduct of MSR in the EEZ of Mauritius can be found here in the “No 57 of 2017 - Maritime Zones (Conduct of Marine Scientific Research) Regulations 2017" and for Mauritius-Seychelles JMA here in the “Joint Management Area Marine Scientific Research Code".

Application forms can be downloaded for

  1. EEZ of Mauritius here
  2. Mauritius-Seychelles JMA here


How to apply for hydrocarbon and minerals activities in the Maritime Zones of Mauritius?


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