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Draft marine plan to get another round of feedback

Juvenile fish congregate around seagrass at Bailey’s Bay (Photograph by Kimberly Holzer)

Revisions to a draft plan for the management and conservation of Bermuda waters have been drawn up using feedback submitted by hundreds of residents.

The Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme is to give weekly updates online regarding the Draft Blue Prosperity Plan, which faced a hostile reception from many in the island’s fishing community during public consultation that wrapped up on December 31 last year.

The plan, which incorporates a Marine Spatial Plan and a Blue Economy Strategy, will protect 20 per cent of the waters falling within Bermuda’s exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles, or 230 miles, offshore.

The BOPP was formed in 2019 under an agreement between the Government, the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and the Waitt Institute, a non-governmental organisation for ocean conservation.

Andrew Pettit, the director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said the total feedback, which went online in March, had been used for updates to the draft plan.

“To further engage local stakeholders, we will host additional opportunities to explore key topics highlighted in the public feedback and conversations that took place around the community.”

Changes to the plan are being given online in weekly instalments, which started on April 18 and will run through May 30.

They will include brief surveys, which close on June 13.

Topics will include maritime enforcement, licensing and monitoring, the blue economy, and proposed maps for marine protected areas — which topped concerns from the Fishermen’s Association of Bermuda.

The FAB remains in talks with the Government about the plan

BOPP will also host focus groups to be joined by contributors to the Draft Blue Prosperity Plan, including members of the steering committee, the science committee and the BOPP “ocean village” of interest groups.

Focus groups have been tasked with sharing the “priorities, opportunities, challenges or gaps identified by stakeholders and clarify the additional details”, the department said.

The sessions will be used for the next draft of the Blue Prosperity Plan this year.

Enforcement and licensing have stood out as critical topics during negotiations with the FAB and the association is to attend the first two focus groups on those subjects.

The department said the FAB hoped to finish its negotiations, including a proposed memorandum of understanding with the Government, to be able to take part in the development of the plan.

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Published April 29, 2023 at 7:50 am (Updated April 29, 2023 at 7:50 am)

Draft marine plan to get another round of feedback

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