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Gov’t signs seabed development agreement

by Pointe Xpress
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The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Odyssey Marine Exploration, a global leader in marine exploration with over 25 years of experience in the discovery, validation, and exploration of subsea resources, for a project called “The Antigua and Barbuda Sustainable Seabed Resource Development Programme”. 

The Government and Odyssey share the goal of exploring opportunities in the waters of Antigua and Barbuda to understand potential resources in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and wish to establish a long-term partnership to explore respectful and environmentally sustainable activities within the island’s marine space. 

Prime Minister Gaston Browne outlined that the signing of the MoU is a very important step in exploring the resources of the seas around the islands in a sustainable manner. 

“Given Odyssey’s extensive history and record in developing and executing deep-ocean exploration projects, we felt they would be an excellent partner to help us understand our ocean and seabed resources,” PM Browne added.

“The goal of our Blue Economy initiative is to support the sustainable use of our ocean resources for economic growth and improved livelihoods while protecting ocean health. The first step is a thorough understanding of our ocean and seabed resources within our EEZ which expands up to 200 miles from our beaches and coastline. We are pleased to be planning this first step with Odyssey Marine Exploration whose advanced capabilities to survey and map our surrounding ocean will allow us to understand what mineral resources may be present, while also providing invaluable mapping and environmental data that will benefit future marine spatial planning, our fisheries, and defining our marine habitat,” said the Honourable Minister for the Blue Economy, Dean Jonas.

“Odyssey is excited to enter into this partnership with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda who share our love and respect of the ocean. Our global team of scientists, environmental experts, and deep-ocean professionals will collaborate on the project with the Government and local stakeholders, sea users and academic institutions. We are developing a robust deep-sea exploration programme that includes scientific and environmental studies, the data from which will be shared with the Government and will contribute to the overall understanding of Antigua and Barbuda’s ocean resources,” said John Longley, Odyssey President and COO. 

“We are committed to conducting our marine exploration activities in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. At this early stage, exploration activities include marine scientific research with limited sampling to understand the environment, and do not have any material impact to the marine environment. We want to assure the government and people of Antigua and Barbuda that we continuously monitor and evaluate the environment and our processes, and if at any point data indicates that serious harm would occur, we re-assess the project.” 

This subsea exploration programme has the potential to unlock a host of economic, societal and scientific benefits for the nation through capacity building programmes, acquired scientific data, and Odyssey’s engagement of local businesses and services while operating on and offshore in Antigua and Barbuda.  

Exploration activities will provide data to help the Government develop Maritime Blue Economy initiatives in an environmentally responsible manner. Throughout the planning and operational phases of the exploration programme, Odyssey is committed to working with local sea users, fisheries and the tourism industry of Antigua and Barbuda to ensure the project does not interfere with their work.  

The planning phase is in early stages and will take place over the next several months. All facets of the exploration programme will be approved by the appropriate Government agencies prior to taking place.

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