St. Kitts and Nevis prepares for maritime boundaries negotiations

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, OCTOBER 17TH 2011 (CUOPM) – St. Kitts and Nevis is getting prepared for negotiations of maritime boundaries with neighbouring states.

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

According to Mr. Hobson the meeting is a follow up to two previous training sessions held in St. Kitts by the Commonwealth 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, Mr. Hobson disclosed that there will certainly be challenges in some cases.

“St. Kitts and 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 told the Communications Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister (CUOPM).

The other members of the St. Kitts and 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. the Hon. Richard Skerrit informed the Cabinet that St. Kitts and Nevis has overlapping or disputed maritime boundaries with the Netherlands Antilles (St. Eustatius), Venezuela, The French Antilles (St. Barthelemy), Antigua and Barbuda, and Montserrat (effectively, the United Kingdom.

He said that Government believes that 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 and 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. the Hon. Nigel Carty during the Cabinet Brief.

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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