In March 2011, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) adopted recommendations confirming the entitlement of the Republic of Seychelles and the Republic of Mauritius to an area of extended continental shelf, as contained in a joint submission by the two States in respect of the Mascarene Plateau region. Mauritius and Seychelles have in 2012 agreed to the establishment of Joint Management Area (JMA) in which the two States exercise sovereign rights jointly for the purpose of exploring the continental shelf and exploiting its natural resources. The JMA is established in respect of the Joint Zone described in Article 2 of the Treaty Concerning the Joint Exercise of Sovereign Rights over the Continental Shelf in the Mascarene Plateau Region done on 13 March 2012 between the Government of the Republic of Mauritius and the Government of the Republic of Seychelles ("the Contracting Parties").
Covering an area of approximately 396,000 km2 of Extended Continental Shelf, the area of the Mascarene Plateau is the largest undersea plateau in the Indian Ocean. A range of activities may be carried out in the JMA in the future, such as hydrocarbon exploration and production, deep sea mining, research operations and laying of submarine cables. All of these activities are economically important and may have an impact on the environment. New activities in the JMA may develop as technology advances and cost barriers diminish. There are significant economic opportunities for both Mauritius and Seychelles from future development in the JMA, but these opportunities need to be realised in a sustainable and strategic manner.
The regime for the joint management of the JMA is embodied in the Treaty Concerning the Joint Management of the Continental Shelf in the Mascarene Plateau Region between the Government of the Republic of Seychelles and the Government of the Republic of Mauritius ("Joint Management Treaty"), done on 13 March 2012.
The regime has been carefully designed to provide for the exercise of jurisdiction and sovereign rights in accordance with international law, as reflected in the relevant provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which provides that a coastal State has exclusive sovereign rights over areas of continental shelf extending beyond the limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone, but in respect only of the exploration and exploitation of the mineral and other non-living resources of the seabed and subsoil (such as oil, gas and other hydrocarbons), together with sedentary marine living organisms.