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Island taking ‘very strong protective stance’ on Sargasso Sea expert

Members of the Sargasso Sea Alliance have met in Bermuda to discuss how to protect the important Atlantic ecosystem.

The Sargasso Sea acts as a nursery and home for numerous species.

Alliance executive director David Freestone warned the area is threatened by pollution and the effects of ocean acidification.

However, he said Bermuda was leading the way towards the protection of the region.

“Bermuda has been taking a very strong protective stance on this. All of the proposals being made to international authorities will be made through Bermuda.”

The meeting brought the Alliance together with Fredrick Ming, director of the Department of Environmental Protection and Drew Pettit of the National Parks Commission. Together they discussed how to protect the region from environmental threats.

Environment Minister Walter Roban has said the Government is committed to taking a leading role in the protection efforts.

He said the water mass up to 700 miles wide and 2,000 miles long is a vital habitat for dozens of species.

Although too large to protect as a whole, Mr Roban said that research could be done to identify and protect the most vulnerable areas.

“It's a unique ecosystem based on two species of floating sargasso that a large number of important and notable species use as a nursery including blue fin tuna, turtles, mahi mahi and marlin,” he said. “It doesn't seem like it, but there are quite a number of species there.

“People used to believe it was like a desert, but it's actually teeming with life.”

Waste items like plastic pose a real threat to many of the species that call the Sargasso Sea home.

“I recently went to Horseshoe Bay, and you could see a line of small bits of plastic,” he said. “Plastic doesn't biodegrade. Some of it gets melted down, and the rest goes on forever.

“It just gets smaller, and then fish mistake it for food and consume it.

“Plastic is one issue, and oil is the other. There are still operational discharges as they call them. They are still legal in some circumstances.”

He said that work done in Bermuda could play a major part in conservation efforts not only because of its location and the role that the Government has adopted, but because of the long-term research being carried out by BIOS.

“As they have said, Bermuda really is a canary in the coal mine. What happens here is important on a global scale.”

Experts: Members of the Sargasso Sea Alliance

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Published March 24, 2011 at 9:59 am (Updated March 24, 2011 at 9:59 am)

Island taking ‘very strong protective stance’ on Sargasso Sea expert

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