Tell us what you think about the EEZ
Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Bermuda has special rights over the exploration and use of the natural resources within our Exclusive Economic Zone …. our EEZ. This is essentially a circle around Bermuda with a 200 mile radius that covers approximately 464,000 km2 of beautiful blue ocean.
On behalf of the Government of Bermuda, the Sustainable Development Department (SDD) will be managing a public consultation on a proposal to establish a marine reserve within a large portion of the ocean surrounding us. This process will provide the public with information and education so that the input eventually provided from the public is likely to be supported by data. This consultation process is designed for both the general public and key stakeholders who may wish to share their views about the potential of our EEZ.
The people of Bermuda should know that Government is entering this process with all options under consideration. We have heard from global groups such as The Billfishers Foundation and the Blue Halo project by Pew's Global Ocean Legacy group. Some local fishermen and organisations such as BASS have also shared their views. Each have ideas on what they think should be done with this tremendous asset and many of them are advocates of a very defined position but we want all residents to know that their opinion is welcome. The Sustainable Development Department is encouraging residents to have their say on whether or not a marine reserve should be established and, if so, what its size, shape and location should look like. All suggestions are welcomed during this public consultation process.
Most current commercial and recreational activities in our waters (such as fishing, snorkelling etc) take place close to shore. This consultation is concerned with the use and activity in the offshore waters of the EEZ, rather than the nearshore waters. It will consider past, present and future opportunities
In a Ministerial Statement delivered in the House of Assembly earlier this summer, Minister Sylvan D. Richards stated, “It is important to note that the term “marine reserve” indicates a “no-take” zone with a prohibition on all extraction from any part of the reserve. A “no-take” marine reserve therefore means no fishing, no seabed mining”, etc. There will be no opportunity for future exploration and use of resources that may be found and which would be exclusively owned by Bermuda.” .
Given the long-term implications of our decision, younger Bermudians are especially encouraged to become informed, participate and take ownership of their future where this national asset is concerned. It is important that potential social and economic impacts are considered along with environmental impacts so that a balanced decision can be made — one which future generations would look back on and say ”good job!”
It is anticipated that many great ideas will emerge from town hall discussions, stakeholder meetings and school assemblies. Since the Government does not have a predetermined outcome in mind, the goal is to ensure that a sustainable set of options are presented to the Minister concerning the future of our EEZ. The opinions expressed during the public consultation will be examined and the reasons and rationale presented will form the basis of the analysis. The public response component of this project is critical in order to equip our leaders to make the most sensible and beneficial decision for Bermuda today, and well into our future. Therefore we are asking that members of the public provide as much detail and rationale for their opinions as possible when they submit their responses.
As Minister Richards mentioned in his statement to the House of Assembly, “The purpose of this consultation is to get your feedback on whether a marine reserve is the right option for the future protection of Bermuda's waters. Although the results of this consultation are not binding, the Government wants input from all residents on this issue. The decision on whether to restrict activity in a large portion of our offshore waters and the likelihood of maintaining and improving the health of the surrounding ocean, and reaping the associated benefits, is an important one.”
The Government of Bermuda would like to encourage all members of the public to participate and to voice their opinion on how we should plan for and manage this most important national asset, both for today, and for future generations.
We hope to garner public participation in the fall and, by the end of the calendar year, it is expected that a report will be presented to the Minister based on the public's view on the matter.
To learn more about this initiative please visit the Sustainable Development website at, www.sdbermuda.bm. Feel free to leave comments and share your views on our Facebook page Sustain Bermuda.