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More research needed before EEZ decision — Premier

More research must be carried out before Government comes to a “definitive position” on the future of the Island's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), according to Premier Michael Dunkley.

Many have suggested turning much of the nearly 186,000 square mile area of ocean into a massive no-take marine reserve, referred to by supporters as the “Bermuda Blue Halo,” but others have argued such a move would block the development of potentially viable industries such as sea bed mining.

Speaking in the House of Assembly this morning, Mr Dunkley said: “Notwithstanding the differences, there is good consensus on the need for a carefully measured approach to a solution, a made-in-Bermuda approach on what to do with our EEZ.

“Planning for the future of our EEZ is probably one of the most complex opportunities that the Government and people of Bermuda have ever been presented with. This huge, multi-level asset, of almost 186,000 square miles, is larger than the countries of Paraguay, Morocco or Germany and the states of California or Montana.

“This complex, somewhat unknown asset is viewed by some as offering several and separate economic opportunities. It is also viewed as an opportunity with illustrious and financially rewarding global promotion for Bermuda along with social and environmental benefits. However, this first phase of consultation did not include the level of rigour now understandably being requested.

“Based on what we now know, with the range of views regarding the way forward for our EEZ, the level of confidence with this current knowledge, and the current data gap, this Government believes that it is premature to establish a firm or definitive position on the future of the EEZ at this time. The forecasted benefits require a more in-depth and reliable level of due diligence to arrive at a point where benefits, risks and costs can be reasonably quantified and a sustainable position can be taken.”

Mr Dunkley said Government had conducted some research into the proposals, including an online survey and media campaign to gather the opinions of the general public and key stakeholders. While he said all of the proposals carry potential economic benefits, more research must be carried out to ensure the right long-term decision is made

“It may be that all, none or a combination of these options will be the most beneficial to Bermuda's long-term welfare,” he said. “Nonetheless, without a quantitative economic profile of each, we have decided that no long-term decisions should be made about this asset.

“This One Bermuda Alliance administration contends that this opportunity is of such significance that perceptions of biased and unreliable information, shallow due diligence and subjective assertions ought not to be relied upon to make such an important decision.

“Based on major takeaways from the first phase of public consultation, it is clear that a full economic analysis of the current options be undertaken and it is our intention to ensure that an independent feasibility study to assess, forecast and quantify the potential economic activity within our EEZ be carried out. This assessment will project the future economic potential that our EEZ represents and will provide the Government and people of Bermuda with the information required for an advanced level of consultation towards an informed decision on the future of this vast national asset.

“However, given the level of interest and participation in this consultation, the full report on the outcome of the consultation will be made available to the public in the coming weeks.”

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Published June 06, 2014 at 12:35 pm (Updated June 06, 2014 at 3:58 pm)

More research needed before EEZ decision — Premier

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