Director Appointed: Sargasso Sea Alliance

December 7, 2010

The Minister of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Walter Roban pledged Government’s support for the Sargasso Sea Alliance Initiative last week during a celebratory reception at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI) on Tuesday.

At the reception the Minister addressed a roomful of funders, scientists, educators and Government officials to tell them that the Bermuda Government has agreed to participate in this major international initiative.

Minister Roban said: “I am happy to announce the Government’s commitment to this most worthy international initiative, and can confirm that we will do our part to ensure Bermuda plays a leading governmental role in this project. My colleagues and I are pleased to see the creation of a protected area achieved.”

The Minister added that the Government is grateful to the international consortium of private donors that have agreed to support the initiative. This commitment would enable Bermuda to become the base for scientific operations, including monitoring and surveillance, with regard to the Sargasso Sea.

Reception attendees were also introduced to Dr. David Freestone – the new Executive Director of the Sargasso Sea Alliance.

Pictured below left to right: Director of Conservation Services Drew Pettit, Director of Environmental Protection Dr. Fredrick Ming, Executive Director of the Sargasso Sea Alliance Dr. David Freestone, Minister of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Strategy Walter H. Roban and Permanent Secretary Dr. Derrick Binns.

Sargasso sea update 2

Director of the Department of Environmental Protection Dr. Frederick Ming said Dr. Freestone’s visit to Bermuda signals a major development in the progress of the Alliance’s agenda.

Dr. Ming said: “Dr. Freestone’s appointment as the Executive Director, which became effective December 1, 2010, now means that the work will proceed at a much more rapid pace as he brings a great deal of relevant legal and diplomatic experience to the job. The recent trip to Bermuda was important for building relationships with government, scientists and key local, non-governmental organizations.”

Dr. Ming added: “The Bermuda Government, as a leading partner, was also interested in forging out an agreement on a governance structure for the Alliance that it could be comfortable working with. In this regard, discussions were held last week between Dr. Freestone, the Permanent Secretary Dr. Derrick Binns and Directors of key government departments.”

David Freestone has an LL.B and a LL.D from the University of Hull and a LL.M from the University of London.

He joined the Law School of George Washington University in January 2009, after retiring from The World Bank, where he had served as senior adviser and as deputy general counsel, and for eight years was chief counsel and head of the Environment and International Law Group. He is also senior adviser to the USA Multilateral Office of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and visiting professor at the UN University Institute of Advanced Studies and on the List of Experts in Environmental Law appointed by the Secretary-General of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

Prior to joining The World Bank in 1996, he held a faculty chair in international law at the University of Hull in the United Kingdom, where he is still an honorary professor. He has written widely on international environmental law and law of the Sea and is the founding editor of the International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law (now in its 24th year) and a member of the editorial boards of the British Yearbook of International Law, International Yearbook of Environmental Law, and European Yearbook of Environmental Law. He is the 2007 winner of the Elizabeth Haub Gold Medal for Environmental Law. Dr. Freestone’s work is funded by a group of US-based philanthropists.

In what was his fourth visit to Bermuda last week Dr. Freestone told attendees of the Sargasso Sea Alliance Initiative Reception at the BUEI that he was looking forward to “making Bermuda his second home”.

In his talk, Dr. Freestone focused on Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ).

As for why the Sargasso Sea ‘deserves’ protection, he said it is a crucial habitat for endangered species of turtles, acts as a nursery for juvenile fish and is important for the protection of various eel species on the IUCN red list of endangered species.

Threats to the Sargasso include garbage and plastics cast overboard from boats, oil discharges, overfishing, the extraction of Sargasso for bio fuels, and climate change.

With confirmation of Government’s commitment, the support of donors and the appointment of David Freestone as Executive Director, the Sargasso Sea Alliance initiative can now proceed with vigor.

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  1. Graeme Outerbridge says:

    This a fantastic environmental development of historic proportions. The Sargasso sea is the Amazon Jungle afloat in the Atlantic. It is good that we are concentrating on the framework with a legal expert first…..really wish Earl Seaton had been alive to witness this development. Looking forward to seeing all the good science to follow^^

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