St. Kitts & Nevis wants to negotiate maritime boundaries

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts & Nevis: This country is preparing for negotiations of maritime boundaries with neighbouring states.

Two members of the St. Kitts & Nevis Maritime Boundary Negotiating Team, McClean Hobson, Team Leader and Director of Maritime Affairs in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport and Crown Counsel Agatha James-Andries, have been meeting with legal experts at the Commonwealth Secretariat at Marlborough House in London.

The meeting is a follow up to two previous training sessions held in St. Kitts in 2010 and 2011.

Following the meeting at the Commonwealth, the team is expected to brief Cabinet before the actual commencement of negotiations, which the team hopes to start in early 2012.

While the negotiations with some states are anticipated to be straight forward, Hobson said he expects there would be challenges in some cases.

“St. Kitts & Nevis is nevertheless determined to exercise its rights under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, so as to confirm its maritime boundaries consistent with its national interests and the political and economic advancement of the country,” Hobson said.

The other members of the St. Kitts & Nevis negotiating team are Dr. Norgen Wilson, (Homeland Security), Marc Williams (Marine Resources), Kaye Bass (Foreign Affairs) and Graeme Brown (Physical Planning and the Environment).

In February, Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Sen. Richard Skerrit, informed Cabinet that St. Kitts & Nevis has overlapping or disputed maritime boundaries with the Netherlands Antilles (St. Eustatius), Venezuela, The French Antilles (St. Barthelemy), Antigua and Barbuda, and Montserrat (a protectorate of the United Kingdom).

He said that government believes there are clear benefits to the resolution of the country’s maritime boundaries.

“Firstly, it will definitively establish the maritime space over which St. Kitts & Nevis will be able to exercise various rights as a matter of international law. For example, a stable basis will be provided for the better management of fisheries and other marine resources. Secondly, the settlement of the maritime boundaries will give rise to better control and monitoring of shipping of dangerous and illicit commodities through our waters.

“There are, of course, other benefits,” said Minister of Information, Sen. Nigel Carty.

OECS Heads of Government in recent years have been giving consistent focus to the subject of the delimitations of the sub-region’s maritime boundaries.

The governance of the maritime area within the OECS is characterized by unresolved maritime boundaries and related disputes.

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