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Antigua and Barbuda hails ‘monumental’ support on ocean boundaries

21 June 2017

The government of Antigua and Barbuda has welcomed the “monumental” assistance provided by the Commonwealth in settling the country’s maritime boundaries with French territories in the Caribbean.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne recently signed an agreement with French Ambassador Philippe Ardanaz to settle Antigua and Barbuda’s ocean boundary with the islands of Guadeloupe and St Barthélémy.

In a statement the government thanked the Commonwealth Secretariat for facilitating the talks with France and for providing legal aid and training for its negotiators. “This delimitation was made possible through the support and technical assistance of the Commonwealth,” it said.

“The support that they have provided to Antigua and Barbuda and other OECS and CARICOM member states in the delimitation of national maritime boundaries and wider concepts of ocean governance has been monumental.”

The recent agreement settles the country’s exclusive economic zone limits with France under international law, and will provide certainty over fishing and mineral rights, said Rosemarie Cadogan, Adviser and Interim Head of Oceans and Natural Resources at the Commonwealth Secretariat.

“This agreement with France was concluded in the spirit of regional cooperation and good-neighbourliness,” Ms Cadogan said.

“The certainty of jurisdiction it provides is an asset to Antigua and Barbuda as it continues on its 'blue economy' path, and will better position the country to manage its extensive maritime space in the North West Atlantic.”

Last year the Commonwealth Secretariat brought together government officials from eight Caribbean countries including Antigua and Barbuda to prepare for talks to negotiate unresolved marine boundaries and to examine ocean governance.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, an exclusive economic zone extends 200 nautical miles from a state’s coast. Where island territories are in close proximity, diplomatic negotiations are needed to settle the boundary between the nations.

Antigua and Barbuda also shares maritime boundaries which remain to be settled with both Saint Kitts and Nevis and the United Kingdom, in respect of overseas territories Anguilla and Montserrat.

Over the past three decades, more than 30 countries have received the Commonwealth Secretariat’s support on maritime delimitation, contributing to the settlement of ocean boundaries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Find out more.

Photo by France to the OECS Member States and Barbados