Progress on extending maritime boundaries

22 June 2020 | Economics

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

An amount of N$2.246 million has been allocated within the land reform budget towards activities to expand Namibia’s maritime boundaries.

More than a decade since Namibia made a submission to the United Nations to extend Namibia’s territorial boundaries by more than a thousand million square kilometres, progress is finally being made.

The objective of the project is to extend the limits of the Namibian continental shelf beyond the current 200 nautical miles (370.4 kilometres.)

This will expand the area that Namibia can legitimately explore and exploit exclusively. The benefits include the expansion of Namibia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by about a thousand million square kilometres.

Petroleum hopes

This in turns mean that the issuance of new exclusive prospecting licences (EPLs) may hold the potential for discovery of oil, gas and other sub-maritime resources.

“The delineation of the Namibian Continental Shelf beyond the default 200 nautical miles that constitute the EEZ has the potential to change Namibia’s fortune, should significant natural resources such oil and gas be discovered within the Walvis ridge and area beyond 200 nautical miles,” said land reform minister Calle Schlettwein.

Long wait

Namibia submitted its claim to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in May 2009.

Schlettwein said after 11 years of waiting a sub-commission will be established this financial year to scrutinise the scientific and technical data submitted by Namibia.

“The successful negotiation of our legitimate claim will propel the water sector to greater heights in terms of contributing to Namibia’s blue economy.”

Namibia is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and among the activities planned for this financial year will be a revised submission to the UN Convention.

A coastal nation has control of all economic resources within its exclusive economic zone, including fishing, mining, oil and gas exploration, and any pollution of those resources.

The Convention lays down a comprehensive international legal framework for the use of the oceans and their resources, including those related to the continental shelf, and provides for the extension beyond the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone.

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