Norway is assisting Ghana and other ECOWAS member states to prepare submissions to the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) for the extension of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles for considerations.
The submission, to be made before the deadline, May 13, 2009, is to meet Article 4 Annex II of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which enjoins coastal states to make submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) on the extension of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.
Speaking at a two-day Experts Meeting by member states to consider technical issues regarding the submission of the preliminary information, Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources said that in endeavouring to meet the deadline for submissions, there is a critical issue of adjacent boundary delimitations that should be addressed.
The meeting, organised by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources with experts from Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire and Sao Tome and Principe is a follow-up to one held earlier this month in Abuja, Nigeria.
He said that Ghana has met the test of appurtenance to extend the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles and is set to make submission in April this year following the acquisition and interpretation of 1,948 kilometres of two dimensional seismic and other marine data last year.
The Minister said, this has been possible though Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire have not enacted maritime boundary delimitation agreements.
'Therefore, for each of us to be able to meet the deadline, we will need to agree not to object to the consideration of our respective submissions by the CLCS whilst, setting aside, for now, the issue of adjacent boundary delimitations,' he added.
Mr Dauda urged member countries to co-operate and meet the deadline given them for submission and also pledged Ghana's support to Norway to ensure that the assistance being offered becomes fruitful.
Mr Wilhelm Longva, Norway's Ambassador to Ghana urged participants to consider other critical issues of sovereign rights, national legislation and maritime issues and cautiously deal with them.
Mr Lawrence Apaalse Co-ordinator for the Ghana National Continental Shelf Delineation Project explained that Ghana ratified the UN Convention Law on the Sea in 1982 and has already taken the lead with Togo in preparing their submissions whilst the other countries have not.
The Convention gives member countries the opportunity to explore resources up to 200 nautical miles.
Mr Appaalse said Ghana is of the view that each country will benefit from Ghana's submission and agree not to object to the consideration by the CLCS of each other's submission and that 'negotiations on our adjacent maritime boundaries will continue afterwards.'