Barbados and St Vincent sign fishing agreement
Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines have signed a treaty establishing a maritime boundary between the two countries.
Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, affixed their signatures to the treaty on Monday afternoon in Bridgetown.
Stuart noted that their signatures on the document, which established a maritime boundary based on equidistance between the two countries, and which is the first of its kind between Barbados and a member country of the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), marked “a truly historic moment”.
“The definition of the extent of a state’s jurisdiction over its land and maritime space is not a small matter. In fact, the ability of a state to exercise this jurisdiction unimpeded is one of the very defining characteristics of sovereignty.
To agree with one’s neighbours exactly where their jurisdiction begins and yours ends is thus a matter of the highest import to the proper conduct of the business of the state,” he stated.
Stuart also pointed out that St Vincent and the Grenadines was one of Barbados’ key strategic partners in the Caribbean region and that both countries were committed to the pursuit of Caribbean integration, based on a conviction that a strong Caribbean Community was underpinned by strong bilateral relationships, which promote the social and economic interest of their respective states and peoples.
“The treaty that we are signing here today is thus a palpable, tangible demonstration of that commitment to closer regional integration and closer cooperation between our two countries,” he added.
The prime minister also praised Barbados’ ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Robert “Bobby” Morris, who led the Barbados team in the negotiations, as well as the Commonwealth Secretariat, which provided technical advice.
“I know that boundary negotiations can be fraught with difficulty and can take years, sometimes decades. But our teams were able to move forward on the basis of mutual trust and good faith with exemplary alacrity. I am told there was but one negotiating meeting in May of this year, which has enabled us to come today to this signing ceremony,” the prime minister noted.
The St Vincent and the Grenadines prime minister agreed that the treaty was a testament to the excellent relationship between the two countries.
“It speaks to the excellent relations between our people. We are the closest neighbor to Barbados and we have never had any fight over where the boundaries are. Barbadian fishermen would come into our exclusive economic zone, some would even come into the territorial sea and Vincentian fishermen would have done the same thing,” he stressed.
Gonsalves further explained that the agreement would have a number of practical consequences for his country, one of which was geothermal exploration. According to him, Reykjavik Geothermal Ltd and Emera Power, the owners of Barbados Light and Power, were involved in the development of geothermal energy in his country.
“We have more than one geothermal resource and we are currently engaged in the development of one geothermal area which has 60 megawatts of power… so just think of it, if at some point we can sell energy to Barbados, we would have to traverse not only our exclusive zone but that of Barbados,” Gonsalves said.
Barbados will also have an opportunity to exploit the living and non-living resources in its national waters.