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Mauritius government wants to snatch the rights on St Brandon from Raphael Fishing



Mauritius Attorney General Maneesh Gobin has announced that the country’s government is gearing up for a legal battle to snatch St Brandon islands from Raphael Fishing Co Ltd, which has a permanent lease on the island.

Gobin has told reporters that the wreck of the Taiwanese ship, Yu Feng on December 5, has brought the rights on St Brandon matter to the forefront. The MSM-led government has just realised that it has no rights over the island following a decision by the Privy Council.

“This is an unacceptable situation”, according to the Attorney General, who announced that the government will seek legal advice at the local and international level so that the Mauritian State can recover this St-Brandon.

Politically, St. Brandon is part of the Mauritian territory and is grouped within the Outer Islands of Mauritius along with Agaléga, Tromelin (sovereignty disputed with France) and the Chagos Archipelago (sovereignty disputed with Britain), including Diego Garcia. The OIDC reports directly to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Raphaël Fishing Co. Ltd was incorporated in Port Louis, Mauritius on 7 July 1927. In 1928, the Raphaël Fishing Co. acquired the assets of the Saint Brandon Fish and Manure Co. Ltd, which included the October 1901 permanent lease covering thirteen of the thirty Saint Brandon islands (also known as the Cargados Carajos Shoals).

On 30 July 2008, the United Kingdom Privy Council adjudged the 1901 permanent lease as a permanent grant. 

For Maneesh Gobin, “the resources found on the territory of a country must benefit the whole population and not a company and its shareholders”.

He added that, if necessary, the government will try to find a three-quarter majority and pass a law in Parliament.

Also known as Cargados Carajos, St-Brandon is located about 415 km north-north-east of Mauritius. This archipelago, composed of five groups of islands, of about 40 islands and islets. Economic activity in the region is limited to fishing in the waters surrounding the islands, which cover an area of about 2,300 km².

The shareholders of Raphael Fishing include Raymond Boulle, Jean Marc Hein, Colin Taylor, Jean Francois Adam, Jean Marc Harel, H.K. & D.NANDEE CO LTD, among others.

In a communique issued on Sunday 22 January, Raphael Fishing said it is an ethically responsible company that has collaborated to the construction of essential facilities for the meteorological services, National Coast Guard and the Civil Aviation.

“The company has been instrumental in saving hundreds of sailors’ lives whenever the National Coast Guard required support”, it said, adding that its team was “central to the rescue” of the crew of the FV Yu Feng 67, in the presence of the NCG.

Nonetheless, Raphael Fishing has affirmed it “reserves the right to take legal action should it deem necessary”.

Sources: Defi Media, Le Mauricien

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