St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said the OECS had accepted Venezuela’s sovereignty over Bird Island and that he would not allow anyone to dictate whether or not he should put pressure on the Government of Venezuela in relation to the issue.
Bird Island is a low-lying, uninhabited islet situated off the coast of Dominica to which Venezuela lays claim. If the island is recognized as Venezuelan, it would potentially permit Caracas to increase the area of her Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) substantially, thereby impinging not only on the EEZ of Dominica but that of several OECS states as well. Up until last year Dominica, supported by the OECS, rejected the Venezuelan claim on the grounds that under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Bird Island was not a true island at all, but an uninhabitable “rock” which could not form the basis for any EEZ claim. Venezuela, however, is not a signatory to the Law of the Sea.
Last year Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit in a break with the traditional OECS position on the status of Bird Island, publicly acknowledged Venezuelan sovereignty over it, and told the media that his government would be entering into negotiations with Venezuela over the matter of maritime delimitation.
Speaking at a press conference at the Caricom secretariat on Thursday, Gonsalves said, “Nobody is going to tell me which questions are important