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BAMZ’s income slashed by Covid-19 pandemic

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs (file photograph)

The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo’s takings dropped by a massive $350,000 because of the Covid-19 crisis.

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, told the House of Assembly that 68,241 visitors attended BAMZ in the 2019/20 financial year.

He added it was forecast that 74,000 customers would attend the aquarium last year.

But actual numbers were about 17,000 – less than a quarter of the numbers predicted.

Mr Roban said: “It is hoped that as the impact of the pandemic lessens, the annual visitor numbers to the facility will improve somewhat and the number of admissions for 2021/22 has been estimated at 32,000.”

He added educational programmes at BAMZ and Trunk Island were also hit by the pandemic, but classes would were expected to continue this year “as circumstances permit”.

He was speaking as it he announced at Monday’s sitting of the House of Assembly that the budget for BAMZ would be reduced by 4 per cent this year – from $2.9 million to $2.7 million.

Mr Roban said that a new exhibit was expected to open this summer designed to highlight Nonsuch Island and its cahow conservation efforts.

Jarion Richards, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Labour, asked how BAMZ would cope with the drop in revenue, but the question was not answered before the four hours scheduled for the debate ended.

Mr Roban said work on the Marine Spatial Plan was expected to be completed next March and the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme would develop a new management plan for often-harvested species like spiny lobster.

He added that the Government was also looking at legislation that would help block invasive species from being brought to the island and add methods to allow the control of any that did arrive.

Mr Roban said wildlife protection legislation would also be amended to meet international compliance on the trade of endangered species.

He added: “In order to better protect globally threatened migrant species, endangered and threatened sharks will be protected, as well as the manta ray, a species that has been identified as regionally threatened.”

Mr Roban said an island-wide tree planting drive would also be launched and that the reintroduction of shade trees and mangroves, would help reduce the risk of storm surge.

He added the Government would continue to monitor fears about air quality – particularly around the Belco power station in Pembroke, where complaints had risen since new generators were commissioned.

Mr Roban said that Belco was told to install a new portable air quality monitor north of the plant and the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science would review the results.

He added that the Government would also introduce amendments to the Clean Air Act to bring the legislation closer to the standards used in the UK.

Mr Roban told the House the 6 megawatt solar farm at the airport was still in the test phase and that the Government had pushed ahead with the installation of solar panels on its buildings.

He added the ministry was working to develop an “energy sandbox” to encourage innovation on the island, with tidal energy and floating solar options being considered.

Mr Roban said the Ministry planned to update the Landlord and Tenant Act to “reflect the current reality of the rental market”.

He said the pandemic had caused problems between many landlords and their tenants and the Consumer Affairs Department had been regularly involved in conflict resolution.

Mr Roban told the House that the Department of Planning would move from the Dame Lois Browne Evans Building on Hamilton’s Court Street, but did not identify its new location.

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Published March 24, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated March 23, 2021 at 6:30 pm)

BAMZ’s income slashed by Covid-19 pandemic

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