Greenrock says: Make Blue Halo a global talking point
“What's the deal with the Bermuda Triangle?” Many Bermudians will agree that this is one of the most frequently asked questions by non-Bermudians to Bermudians or residents when they find out where we are from.
Greenrock suggests that the proposed Blue Halo marine reserve may have the very same effect – provide a global talking point about the waters surrounding our beautiful country, but with a positive message rather than a mysterious one.
There are statutory protections already in place for our marine resources, but these are not very well known. Greater exposure linked with an international conservation effort would be in the best interests of Bermuda. Just think how recognisable the Australian Great Barrier Reef is to tourists.
The involvement of PEW (an environmental foundation with global reach), and the concept of the Blue Halo itself is free marketing that Bermuda should take advantage of. PEW will have no rights related to our marine reserve, this is our decision and our opportunity. Greenrock would never endorse an initiative if it ceded ownership or rights to a third party over our territorial waters.
We would like to remind the public that a conservation initiative such as the Blue Halo is reversible, though we would hope that it would last into perpetuity. If there were a overwhelming case for use of our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that was at odds with the Blue Halo, the Government and electorate could adjust accordingly at that time.
We believe that an integrated, well-publicised, marine reserve is in our very best interest at this time. As natural resources around the world are further diminished, our ‘backyard', as Choi Aming refers to it, will become more and more valuable for its indigenous state, the accessibility and beauty of our marine resources will become more and more appealing.
There may be a knock-on effect. Once Bermuda protects a portion of our EEZ, other nations (particularly those that have signed the Hamilton Declaration as part of the Sargasso Sea Alliance) may add to our conservation efforts by protecting the area surrounding our EEZ.
Fishing and related local activities in the inner ring of our EEZ would be protected/permitted to continue unhindered, but our local industry may benefit from a more widely known protected area in the outer reaches of our EEZ. The Government asked Bermudians how big that inner ring should be - we want to hear the result of the public consultation.
It is pure speculation that mineral extraction becomes viable in our waters any time soon. For the sake of a slim possibility we should not forego the positive publicity that would come from the Blue Halo.
Any increase in tourism from the Blue Halo would likely have a much wider effect in the community and would trickle down to reach more Bermudians, than would mineral extraction (especially if we look at other global examples: Nigerian oil has not made the average Nigerian rich, or even middle class).
Mineral extraction in our waters would have to be funded with foreign investment and so most of the benefits would go elsewhere. The suggestion that sub-sea mineral extraction will be the economic antidote we need is at best speculative, and at worst misleading. This is open to questions when those making the suggestion stand to benefit most.
We would all benefit from something which makes us distinctive and appealing globally - it is time for us to establish our Blue Halo.
Greenrock, www.greenrock.org, is a non-profit organisation established to engage the community to share solutions for a sustainable Bermuda.
On Saturday, June 7, Bermuda's environmental, education, research, and conservation organisations will be celebrating World Oceans Day at BAMZ from 10am-3pm.