ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Mar. 16, CMC – A treaty to solidify negotiations with the Republic of France to define the maritime space between Antigua and Barbuda and neighbouring French territories, was signed by government officials on Wednesday.

The treaty establishes the outer limits of Antigua & Barbuda’s jurisdiction from where the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) ends, its use, and exploration and exploitation of the Atlantic Ocean in respect to Guadeloupe and Saint Barthelemy.

It also embraces the interests of local fishermen and seafarers who now have a clearer understanding of the delineation of boundaries, thereby enabling both governments to rectify the common issue.

Phillipe Ardanaz
Phillipe Ardanaz

“It is also the first step to manage the problems we may have between our fishermen; obviously, it is never easy to know if you are in French waters or Antiguan waters,” said Ambassador to the OECS Member States and Barbados, Phillipe Ardanaz, who signed the treaty.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said his administration recognises the need for adopting a ‘Blue Economy’ approach to development and is currently looking at ways to develop the nation’s oceanic resources.

“That is a significant amount of resources for us to harness, in fact it is almost 200 times our land space. My understanding is that within the next 40 years, it will be very difficult to find sufficient land space in order to produce sufficient food to sustain the global population,” Browne said.

The prime minister added that possessing a large EEZ provides the opportunity to satisfy seafood demand and suggested the twin island is capable of harvesting in the region of 10,000 tonnes of fish and fish products each year.

“As it stands now, fresh fish and fish products are relatively outside the means of the ordinary Antiguan and Barbudan, but as we continue to invest more resources in the ‘Blue Economy’ in fisheries, we will see an increase in supply and therefore that should help to drive down the cost.”

The Prime Minister said this treaty delineates an essential area in the Atlantic waters that will ensure there are no disputes over maritime space with the country’s neighbours.

The signing of the agreement follows the Eastern Caribbean Ocean Policy (ECROP) declaration for OECS members to formalise maritime boundaries in securing rights protection and jurisdiction over marine areas.