Fishermen to present Premier with petition against ocean conservation plans
Fishermen opposing the Government’s ocean conservation plans are to gather at the Cabinet building tomorrow to deliver a petition to David Burt.
A letter to the Premier from Allan Bean, the president of the Fishermen’s Association Bermuda, said the group was willing to resume participation in the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Plan — but only with “fair representation”.
The group has attacked the proposal as a secretive deal with foreign interests that has shut out fishermen’s input.
Complaints have centred on the sites of marine protected areas, as well as the involvement of the Waitt Foundation, a United States-based non-profit.
Walter Roban, the home affairs minister, has defended the proposed 20 per cent protection of Bermuda’s exclusive economic zone — an area stretching 200 miles off the island’s shores — saying that Britain had called for its Overseas Territories to adopt 30 per cent conservation.
In an interview last month with The Royal Gazette, Mr Bean said fishermen were prepared to accept 20 per cent — but wanted a redrawing of the MPAs, particularly protected areas directly off the island’s shore.
His letter to Mr Burt, dated December 29, insisted that Bermuda’s inshore waters and bays were harmed “primarily by pollution, water run-off, construction and erosion, not overfishing as is being presented”.
The letter maintained that nothing in the BOPP addressed those issues, and that the plan “should not continue to proceed as is”.
The FAB has refused to take part in the proposal under its existing format.
The group also said it had not received a formal response from Mr Roban after a December 20 letter requesting a meeting.
The association said thousands backed its petition, which it said Mr Burt had agreed to accept at 1.30pm tomorrow.
• To read the FAB letter to the Premier in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.