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Sargasso Sea group celebrates milestone

Participants at the initial signing of the Hamilton Declaration in March, 2014.

The Sargasso Sea Commission is celebrating the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Hamilton Declaration on Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea.

The commission is to host a workshop from Wednesday to Friday at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, titled: Next Steps to Strengthen Stewardship of the Sargasso Sea.

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, said: “Having participated in the initial negotiations, I am pleased to see the Sargasso Sea Commission return to Bermuda for this occasion.”

Mr Roban will be opening the meeting with welcome remarks on Wednesday.

The Hamilton Declaration established the commission on March 11, 2014 to encourage and facilitate voluntary collaboration towards the conservation of the Sargasso Sea. The commission has no management authority but is mandated a stewardship role for the Sargasso Sea, to keep its health, productivity and resilience under continual review.

David Freestone, the executive secretary for the commission, said: “Over the last five years, the commission has seen a number of successes and we look forward to the next steps.”

Next Steps to Strengthen Stewardship of the Sargasso Sea is backed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Bermuda Government.

Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, said: “The Government of Canada understands the importance of conserving and protecting biodiversity and marine environments.

“We support the work the commission is undertaking this anniversary year. We remain steadfast in working with our global partners to strengthen the long-term viability of the Sargasso Sea ecosystem for future generations.”

Since the signing of the Hamilton Declaration five years ago, the number of signatories has doubled and now includes Bermuda, the Azores, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Canada, the Cayman Islands, the Dominican Republic, Monaco, the United Kingdom, and the United States.