Door open for fishermen to engage with us, says Roban
Walter Roban, the home affairs minister, has said his door remains open to talks with fishermen about a controversial marine conversation plan.
The comments came after the Fishermen’s Association Bermuda sent the minister a letter requesting a discussion on “revising the methodology” for the draft Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme, which the group opposes in its present structure.
FAB claimed that members felt their professional input in drafting marine protected areas was being “severely diminished” as they suggested potential Cabinet involvement in talks.
Under the BOPP, 20 per cent of the island’s exclusive economic zone off shore is to be set aside for protection.
Mr Roban said that it was FAB who had previously said they were not talking to him.
He told a press conference: “That communication is being reviewed by my technical officers and I will respond accordingly to their request.
“They are the ones who decided they were not talking to me.
“So, if they have changed their position, we will review that and consider what they have said to us.
“The ministry never closed its door.
“Right now, there is an open process for the fishermen to participate ... in the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Plan and the Ocean Village — they don’t need to speak to me directly to be fully engaged in this process.
“Every fisherman in Bermuda can participate in this plan.
“Many have already provided ocean surveys towards the plan.
“So, even though the Fishermen’s Association has said — up to this point, up to the letter that was received by my ministry yesterday — they were not encouraging their members to participate, they have been participating.
“But the door of the ministry ... remains open to them to participate at any time. There has never been a door closed for their participation in shaping the draft plan.
“This is the draft plan — it is not written in stone.”
Walter Roban said he supported the delayed vertical-farming initiative, but questions relating to it should be directed elsewhere.
He said: “It was a part of the economic recovery initiative, and any details as to what would happen next, I would ask that you present those to the Ministry of Economy and Labour and the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation because they are the ones who have the most detailed understanding of that project and where it is intended to go.
“They know the most about where that will go next.
“I support the plan.”
Allan Bean, the association president, has said that what had been presented to FAB members was not a “Bermuda plan”.
He said FAB viewed the proposal as “a modified version of the same plan used in other countries” that had significant differences from Bermuda.