Government to begin marine resources exploration

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Government is preparing to embark on a long-term plan to explore the viability of Bermuda’s ‘blue economy’ as they look to ‘maximise the collective value of Bermuda’s oceans’.

With the help of University of California scientists and through a public-private partnership with the Waitt Foundation and the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Science, Government intends to focus on the nearshore waters by creating a zoning plan for the Bermuda Platform.

BIOS has already advertised for a Nearshore Marine Spatial Planning Coordinator, who will be expected to work with Government in identifing MSP options that could bring revenue from ocean uses such as; commercial and recreational fishing, diving, boating, shipping, conservation, aquaculture and offshore energy.

Nearshore waters refers to a depth of up to 200m around the Island, and the potential use of this area has been a subject of discussion lately, with Opposition Leader Marc Bean repeatedly calling for Government to investigate the potential of a “blue economy” including offshore fishing and mining.

There has also been talk of protecting a large portion of Bermuda’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) through the Bermuda Blue Halo and Sargasso Sea Alliance initiatives.

A process that is expected to take a number of years, the MSP Coordinator will be expected to liase with all the groups involved, including fisherman, Government departments and other stakeholders. The post is for an initial one-year period only, with the successful candidate expected to have a master’s degree at a minimum.

According to the BIOS advert, which appeared in The Royal Gazette earlier this week, “The process of developing a zoning platform will be led by the Departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation Services, with input and involvement from numerous other governmental departments.

“Researchers from the University of California Santa Barbara, with financial support from the Waitt Foundation, have committed to providing scientific and analytical support to evaluate alternative proposed spatial plans to identify MSP options that maximise the collective value of Bermuda’s ocean uses and minimise conflicts among the different uses and priorities.”

According to the job posting, a steering committee made up of representatives of the two departments will lead the public policy process, with representatives from other relevant Government agencies.

Meanwhile a technical working group will be responsible for developing and evaluating alternative spatial plans.

The project is expected to take several years to complete, including extensive Government input, data compilation, analysis and modelling of spatial plans, detailed public consultation and government approval, with additional time to implement the plan.

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Published Mar 21, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Mar 20, 2013 at 10:30 pm)

Government to begin marine resources exploration

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