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Three-year action plan being drafted to protect marine environment

A view of the reefs off North Shore (Photograph supplied by Andrew Collins)

A three-year action plan to bring additional protection for Bermuda’s marine environment in partnership with Britain has begun to be drafted.

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, told the House of Assembly on Friday that efforts to bring the Blue Shield programme to the island are under way and could offer an “impressive array” of assistance for Bermuda.

Among the benefits under discussion are the introduction of underwater camera and microphone equipment, satellite surveillance data to help to focus enforcement activity and training in both specialist satellite survey technology and case management.

Mr Roban said: “For us it will provide a complete picture of marine activities, which will allow improved management of our waters.

“Through establishing compliance and enforcement frameworks, Blue Shield will actively monitor activity, assisting us to ensure environmental regulations are met.

“Where necessary, Blue Shield will also help Bermuda to undertake enforcement action against non-compliance.”

Mr Roban added that he was particularly excited about the focus on protecting Bermuda’s marine resources.

He said: “Our exclusive economic zone extends out approximately 370km, or 200 miles, from our shores, roughly in the shape of a circle.

“With this in mind, one of our biggest challenges is having a good understanding of the ‘goings-on’ or maritime domain awareness of the threats in our EEZ.

“To date this has been very challenging but advances in technology, combined with assistance from our neighbours, as well as better integration of our local assets, mean that it is now possible to monitor and manage our EEZ almost in real time.”

Bermuda became the first overseas territory to join the Blue Shield programme last year.

The programme is funded through Britain’s Blue Belt scheme, which was designed to protect more than four million kilometres of ocean around the world and combat the effects of climate change.

A group of three British government representatives visited the island this month to learn more about the island’s resources and challenges.

Mr Roban said: “While on island the Blue Shield team undertook numerous meetings with the Governor, Minister and Permanent Secretary of Home Affairs, and technical representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Royal Bermuda Regiment Coast Guard, Department of Marine and Ports and Disaster Management to assess the draft scoping document.

“Additionally the team visited numerous fish landing sites throughout the island, the Marine Operations Centre at Fort George, the eastern protected grouper grounds with the Fisheries Section and western areas with the RBR Coast Guard.

“This gave the team the opportunity to experience first-hand local sea conditions and habitats, the size and capabilities of our vessels, the impressive capabilities of the Marine Operations Centre and the assets of local enforcement.

* To read the ministerial statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.

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Published February 21, 2022 at 7:28 am (Updated February 21, 2022 at 7:28 am)

Three-year action plan being drafted to protect marine environment

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