Sri Lanka seeks exclusive economic zone expansion

Colombo, June 8 (Daily Mirror) - Sri Lanka is successfully lobbying for the increase of the size of its Exclusive Economic Zone in cooperation with the Maldives avoiding any conflict between the two sides on overlapping claims, the Daily Mirror learns.

The ‘Exclusive Economic Zone’ is an area of the ocean, generally extending 200 nautical miles (230 miles) beyond a nation’s territorial sea, within which a coastal nation has jurisdiction over both living and nonliving resources.

Sri Lanka submitted in May 2009 technical and scientific data and other information to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf for the establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond Sri Lanka’s Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 nautical miles under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Afterwards, the Commission established a sub-commission to engage with Sri Lanka in 2016.

Since then, the Sri Lankan delegation assigned to the task has held 11 rounds of talks. An informed source said Sri Lanka has successfully established the outer edge of its continental shelf to the satisfaction of the sub-commission. However, it is still pending approval by the UN Commission.

Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Sabry secured Cabinet approval last year to set up the National Ocean Affairs Committee under the Ministry to work with this subcommission.

The continental shelf is one of the maritime zones which consist of numerous rich mineral deposits, oil, gas and fisheries. The commercial value attached to this particular zone is gigantic. In consequence, every State tries to extend their continental margin in order to exploit and grab as much as it can make out of it.

According to UN laws, a country can have continental shelf rights up to 350 nm or 100 nm from the 2,500 metre depth, which is higher.

The Daily Mirror learns that there are overlapping claims in the extension of the continental shelf with the Maldives.

During bilateral talks with Maldivian Foreign Affairs Minister Moosa Zameer, the Sri Lankan delegation discussed the matter. It is learnt that the two sides decided to collaborate with each other to avoid any conflict over areas of overlapping.

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