The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has issued a decision on the disputed waters between the Maldives and Mauritius, with the Maldives receiving a larger share of the area.

The case has been ongoing for some time, with both countries claiming sovereignty over the area and the potential resources it contains. The decision is based on the principle of equidistance, which means dividing the area equally based on the distance from the coastlines of each country.

However, there was a controversy over which point to measure the distance from. Mauritius argued that Blenheim Reef, which it considers part of its territory, should be the starting point for measurement. The Maldives submitted satellite images and scientific evidence to prove that Blenheim Reef cannot be considered a base point. The ITLOS special chamber decided not to consider any point from Blenheim Reef in drawing the equidistance line.

The ruling, which is final and binding, means that the Maldives will receive a larger share of the disputed waters, totaling 92,563 square meters. While the Maldives will retain an area of 47,232 square meters, it will also lose approximately 45,331 square meters from its traditionally claimed Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). If the ITLOS had considered the reef a base point, the Maldives would have lost an additional 4,687 square meters, in addition to the 45,331 square meters.

However, it is important to note that this area has never been used by Mauritius fishermen, but the Maldivians use it, and now they have lost over 45,331 square meters of fishing grounds.

The ITLOS ruling is an important development in the ongoing dispute between the Maldives and Mauritius over the disputed waters. It is worth noting that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) allows for the continental shelf to extend beyond 200 nautical miles. The Maldives had applied to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) for parts beyond the 200 nautical miles in 2010, while Mauritius had also lodged a similar application. The case in CLCS is yet to be resolved.

The Chagos Archipelago, considered a British territory, is also a matter of dispute between Mauritius and the UK. The dispute over the Chagos Archipelago has impacted the relationship between Mauritius and the Maldives, as the Maldives had supported the UK’s position on the matter. However, the ITLOS ruling on the disputed waters between Maldives and Mauritius is a separate issue from the Chagos Archipelago dispute.