Sri Lanka is exploring economic opportunities in a vast sea area stretching 250 nautical miles beyond its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), potentially opening up a new frontier for fuel exploration, biodiversity conservation, and economic growth.
Talks are underway with regional countries, including India, following the United Nations Law of the Sea, the National Oceanic Affairs Committee Secretariat revealed during a recent meeting with a parliamentary committee.
Key findings and implications:
Uncharted Territory: This region beyond the 200-nautical-mile EEZ is currently uncharted in terms of economic activities. However, it holds potential for fuel exploration and safeguarding marine biodiversity.
International Cooperation: Sri Lanka is seeking agreements with regional countries, with India being a key player, as stipulated by the UN Law of the Sea.
Strategic Importance: The committee acknowledges the strategic importance of this area for Sri Lanka’s development and emphasizes the need for swift action in coordination with the Ministry of Defence.
Blue Economy Focus: Positioning the “Blue Economy” at the heart of economic development aligns with Sri Lanka’s post-pandemic recovery plans and leverages the vast potential of its maritime resources.
Sri Lanka’s existing maritime area comprises the coastline, territorial seas, contiguous zones, the EEZ, and historic waters.
The EEZ alone covers 517,000 sq km, eight times the size of the landmass.
Under the UN Law of the Sea, Sri Lanka has claimed an extended seabed area 23 times its landmass, further expanding its maritime domain.
Overall, this initiative signifies Sri Lanka’s proactive approach to unlocking the economic potential of its vast maritime territory. Successful negotiations and sustainable resource management could be key to driving economic growth and securing a blue future for Sri Lanka.
The Indian Ocean is an emerging growth pole and one of the busiest East-West trade corridors. Over two-thirds of global oil shipments and one-third of bulk cargo are transported across the Indian Ocean. One-third of the global bulk shipping trade, including petroleum products and coal transit across this region. Hence, the maritime sector facilitates the economies of many countries in South Asia. Countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh are major actors in maritime trade in the Indian Ocean.