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Bermuda joins ‘blue shield’ against illegal fishing

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Bermuda’s membership of the Blue Shield programme will increase protections against illegal fishing and other illegal activities on the seas in its Exclusive Economic Zone

Bermuda has become the first overseas territory to join a new maritime defence programme which protects against illegal fishing and other unlawful activities.

The Blue Shield programme is a UK government initiative designed to provide comprehensive tools to the overseas territories.

Specialised training will be provided for local staff who will be given access to surveillance and enforcement techniques.

It is the latest project to be funded by the Blue Belt programme which “protects and enhances” more than four million kilometres of ocean globally.

A spokesman for the programme said: “The Blue Shield programme will identify and analyse activities taking place within the maritime domains of participating territories that may impact the health and sustainability of their biodiverse marine environments.

“It will provide a full picture of marine activities to territories, which will allow improved management of their waters.

“The activities surveyed could include illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, commercial and recreational vessel activity, as well as shipping activity.

“Through the establishment of compliance and enforcement frameworks, Blue Shield will actively monitor activity, assisting the territories to ensure environmental regulations are met.

“Where necessary, Blue Shield will also assist territories to undertake enforcement action against non-compliance.”

Bermuda’s membership of the Blue Shield programme will increase protections against illegal fishing and other illegal activities on the seas (File photograph).

Training in surveillance and enforcement techniques will be included for drones that can monitor vast areas of ocean for human activity and report findings in real time, as well as acoustic units that can monitor for sounds of vessels in the event their GPS positioning systems are turned off.

Satellite surveillance data can be used to monitor activity across the entire Exclusive Economic Zones.

Walter Roban, Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs, said: “I am very excited for Bermuda to be participating in the Blue Shield programme and thank the UK Government for their willingness to share this vital piece of technology that will help support the surveillance, protection and management of our marine environment.

“Bermuda will continue to align itself with the highest standards needed for the protection of our oceans.

“Following on from our leading participation in the Sargasso Sea Commission, our Blue Belt/Blue Shield involvement further strengthens Bermuda’s role as custodian of one of the world’s foremost marine ecosystems.”

Lord Zac Goldsmith, UK Minister for the Environment, added: “The Blue Shield programme is an exciting new initiative supporting the UK Overseas Territories to monitor and manage their vast marine areas.

“This [programme] will ensure that the territories can properly protect their wonderful marine environments against the threat of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and damaging activities.

“Support provided by the project to combat IUU fishing, manage vessel activity and marine development projects will underpin Bermuda’s existing protected areas management approach.”

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Published November 17, 2021 at 4:28 pm (Updated November 22, 2021 at 4:27 pm)

Bermuda joins ‘blue shield’ against illegal fishing

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