Hamilton, June 5th, 2019 – The Government of Bermuda has committed to protect at least 20% of their total Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in marine protected areas (MPAs) while vowing to sustainably develop their Blue Economy.
On June 5th, the Government of Bermuda’s Ministry of Home Affairs, the Waitt Institute, and Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to form the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme. Through this partnership,Bermuda will create a binding ocean plan to sustainably manage and improve ocean industries like fishing and tourism while at the same time preserving 90,000 square kilometers (50,000 square miles) of Bermuda’s waters in fully protected areas (no fishing, extraction, or destruction of any kind is allowed).
This process will be based on scientific, legal, and socio-economic assessments of the island and will be designated and implemented by 2022. Utilizing marine spatial planning (MSP), new inshore and offshore zones will aim to preserve commercially important fish stocks, migratory routes for marine mammals, and deep-sea ecosystems like seamounts and corals while allowing for responsible development of marine industries.
Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs the Hon. Walter H. Roban said,“We Bermudians rely on our ocean for our food, livelihoods, shipping, tourism, climate resilience and recreation. This partnership confirms our recognition that a healthy ocean is essential to our island’s prosperity – our future depends on it. Bermuda is committed to achieving the highest standard of marine protection, which is essential to build ocean resilience, while at the same time ensuring economic resilience.”
900 km (570 miles) from the Eastern United States, Bermuda’s waters contain the northernmost coral reef ecosystem in the world. While boasting some of the healthiest coral in the Atlantic, Bermuda’s waters face mounting pressures from human activity such as declining fish stocks, sea level rise, and a potential risk of increased tropical storms.
“Bermuda has a robust history of ocean management and research, starting with the protection of sea turtles in the early 1600s. The Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme will ensure this legacy lives on by leveraging current scientific understanding to preserve marine biodiversity for both its inherent environmental and socioeconomic values. BIOS is pleased to be a part of this initiative that will no doubt serve as a model for other countries around the world,”said Bill Curry, CEO of Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences.
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