Ocean programme celebrates anniversary
This Friday marks the 1 year anniversary of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Bermuda, the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), and the Waitt Institute to form the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme (BOPP).
This partnership vowed to create a binding marine spatial plan to sustainably manage Bermuda's ocean environment and identify sustainable growth possibilities for ocean industries like fishing and tourism. The partnership also commits to preserving 90,000 square kilometers (50,000 square miles) of Bermuda's waters as fully protected areas in order to support ocean livelihoods well into the future. One year in, the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme continues to build a fair and comprehensive process that is based in science and, most importantly, aligns with the needs and desires of the Bermudian people.
This anniversary takes place under the shadow of the COVID19 pandemic, inspiring the BOPP administrative team and partners to further prioritize activities which focus on Bermuda's economy, such as renewable energy and food security. This Blue Economy Strategy will be a 10-year plan for Bermuda's marine sectors, which will identify areas of sustainable growth, focusing specifically on sustainable fisheries, tourism, and ocean renewable energy.
The Hon. Walter Roban JP, MP, Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs said, “This unprecedented situation really makes us appreciate our island. We are one of the most beautiful places on earth and we need to look after our marine environment so that it continues to provide the many services that help our economy.”
The BOPP is being guided by a Steering Committee comprised of representatives from Government Departments, Boards, quangos, BIOS, and the Waitt Institute. To ensure the process is based on the best available science, a Science Committee was also formed, which includes experts from the Waitt Institute, BIOS, the Government, and independent local scientists. This committee is working to develop the guiding principles of the marine spatial plan, and is collating the scientific data that will inform the spatial analyses. The public will have the opportunity to provide input through stakeholder consultation and digital tools in the coming months. BOPP Site Manager Cheryl-Ann Mapp and Communications Coordinator Weldon Wade, along with other Programme leaders will continue to engage stakeholders and connect with communities throughout the process to further introduce BOPP's mission, answer questions, and ensure everyone's voice is heard.
Despite the need to shift deadlines because of COVID19, the work continues to build an inclusive and diverse team of stakeholders to inform guiding objectives and priorities for the marine spatial plan. All Bermudians have a voice in how best to manage and protect marine resources, and the BOPP continues to build out those processes while putting the health of citizens first.
Another developing BOPP initiative in collaboration with local fishers is the Fish Aggregation Device (FAD) pilot study. The FADs will be placed in deep water beyond the Bermuda Platform and will be used to attract large pelagic fish species (such as tunas and wahoo). This could boost fish catches and encourage more offshore fishing. The FAD trials are now due to start in Spring 2021.
Bermuda is an island with tremendous potential. It is no coincidence that this MOU was signed on World Environment Day, which falls just before World Ocean's Day on June 8th. Bermuda is leading the way in this global effort to protect livelihoods and the planet. The Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme is committed to developing strategies to support the sustainable growth of marine industries, which will aid our economic recovery from the pandemic leading to a prosperous future.
• Press release from Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme