Govt promises public consultation over giant marine nature reserve
Government is still considering a plan to turn a vast portion of Bermuda’s waters into a marine nature reserve.
However a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure strategy said the public will be consulted before any action is taken.
“Prior to making a decision on whether or not such a zone will be created, the Government will undertake a public education and public consultation exercise in order to determine the views of the Bermudian people,” she said. “Upon consideration of those views, the Government will then determine if such a Marine Protected Area will be created, and if so, the location, size, shape and the nature of protections to be associated with it.
“This initiative continues Bermuda’s long standing commitment to ensuring the sustainability of our marine environment.”
The Bermuda Blue Halo project, announced last January, proposes turning a large portion of Bermuda’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) into a marine reserve.
Supporters of the plan, including oceanographer Sylvia Earle and conservationist Phillipe Cousteau, have said that in addition to protecting the marine environment the Blue Halo could help improve tourism and the local economy.
Last September, Government approved turning Bermuda’s EEZ into a 170,000 square mile marine mammal sanctuary, protecting animals including the endangered humpback whale.
Along with continuing to consider the Blue Halo initiative, the spokeswoman said Government is still moving forward as part of the Sargasso Sea Alliance — an international effort to improve protection in the North Atlantic region.
“Bermuda is at the forefront of efforts to develop a model for the protection of the High Seas that are beyond any nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone and thereby beyond national jurisdictions,” the spokeswoman said.
Government is also working to create a “marine spatial plan” for the Island’s inshore waters, which the spokeswoman said would help Government determine the best uses for the resource.
She added: “Bermuda is supported in these important marine conservation efforts by a number of international organisations such as the University of California Santa Barbara, the Waitt Foundation, the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences, Mission Blue, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) among others.”