Talks to extend Lanka’s Continental Shelf

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By 2017-04-12

By Ravi Ladduwahetty

Sri Lanka's aspiration of thriving as a 21st century maritime hub has received a much needed boost, with Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne opening discussions with top brass of the Brazilian Navy specifically in relation to defining the outer limits of the island's continental shelf, extending from the country's southern coast. Vice Admiral Wijegunaratne who was in Brazil attending the Latin America Aerospace and Defence (LAAD – 2017) Exhibition, visited the Directorate of Hydrography and Navigation of the Brazilian Navy, in Rio de Janeiro last week. Upon his arrival, the Commander of the Navy was warmly received by the Director Hydrography Navigation, Vice Admiral Marcos Sampaio Olsen with whom he had discussions on a wide range of matters of bilateral importance. The discussions were also attended by the Advisor to the Directorate of Hydrography Navigation, Admiral (Retd.) Luiz Fernando Palmer Fonseca.

The Sri Lankan Ambassador to Brazil, General (Retd.) Jagath Jayasuriya, also attended the talks. The Lankan Navy Chief was briefed on the development of hydrography surveys undertaken by the directorate. He requested the Brazilian Navy and its hydrography experts for technical assistance in matters pertaining to defining limitations of the outer limits of the island's continental shelf, extending from South of Sri Lanka.

The Navy Chief expressed his belief that Sri Lanka's future economic prosperity and sustainability lie in the efficient management, preservation and exploitation of its marine wealth, with possible oil, gas and rare mineral deposits within its maritime boundaries. Sri Lanka's claim on the delimitation of the outer limit of its continental shelf is expected to result in a marine seabed area 23 times larger than the island's land mass. Brazil has a vastly developed Naval Hydrography and Oceanography Department and is the second country in the world to produce their complete claims and data on the delimitation of their outer limit of continental shelf margins conforming to the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The invitation to the Sri Lankan Navy Commander was extended following Brazil's Navy's first ever delegation, led by Rear Admiral SF Chaves, Jr (Deputy Chief of Operational Intelligence) to the 2016 Galle Dialogue, Maritime Symposium in Colombo.

LAAD is the largest and most important trade exhibition for defence and security in Latin America, which biannually gathers Brazilian and international companies specialized in providing equipment and services for armed forces.

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