[Updated with video] Bermuda’s coral reefs have been featured in a new book which helps to showcase them to a global audience, and the information contained in it will be a key reference for our school children, Minister of Environment and Planning Sylvan Richards said today.
Minister Richards said, “As many of us already appreciate, Bermuda’s coral reefs are an extremely significant part of Bermuda’s culture and economy.
“I am sure you have heard of the critical state that many of the world’s reef systems are currently in, with mass coral die off and fish loss. To date Bermuda has been spared much of this and we are blessed with not only a healthy system but also the world’s most northerly one. As such we can still rely on our reefs for food, coastline protection and as one of our major tourism attractions.
“Therefore, I am excited to be here today to share with you that Bermuda’s coral reefs have been recognized in the most recently released volume of Coral Reefs of the World – a series presenting the status of the world’s coral reefs, authored by leading scientists.
“The volume entitled Coral Reefs of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories is fourth in a series that also includes coral reefs of the USA, the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, and the Persian Gulf.
“The Bermuda contribution was spearheaded by the Department of Conservation Services and also involved scientists from the Department of Environmental Protection, the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, the Bermuda Zoological Society, plus collaborators from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela.
“Bermuda is described as one of the eight UK Territories that have extensive coral reefs. The book documents the current status of Bermuda’s reefs over six chapters that cover aspects such as geology, oceanography, climate, biogeography, biodiversity, connectivity, potential threats and a summary of the total economic value of Bermuda’s coral reefs.
“Not only does this book bring Bermuda’s coral reefs to a global audience, the information contained in it will be a key reference for our school children in the study of our reefs, emphasizing the significant role coral reefs play in Bermuda’s past, present and future, and therein, the importance of protecting them.
“We Bermudians have a strong tradition of stewardship of our reefs, a tradition that this government intends to continue. A good example of this is the work being done to protect the Sargasso Sea, being led by the Sargasso Sea Alliance a partnership formed over two years ago and led by the Government of Bermuda to protect the Sargasso Sea.
“As you may recall, the Executive Committee of the Sargasso Sea Alliance was recently awarded the prestigious 2013 SeaKeeper award by the International SeaKeepers Society for their efforts in the field of marine conservation.
“Finally, I feel this would be an appropriate time to remind the public that this Ministry has recently initiated a public consultation process with regards to the possible establishment of an offshore marine reserve within our Exclusive Economic Zone.”
Photo: Minister Richards [centre] pictured with those who contributed towards Bermuda’s submission for the book. L-R: Mr. Jaret Bilewitch [BIOS]; Ms. Lyndsey Holland [BIOS]; Dr. Jan Locke [Department of Conservation Services]; Dr. Struan Smith [Curator, Bermuda Natural History Museum]; Dr. Joanna Pitt [Department of Environmental Protection]; and Dr. Thad Murdoch [BZS]:
Minister Richards continued, “This Government wishes to ensure that ALL are given an opportunity to be heard before a decision is taken.”
“We have much to gain by working together to determine how best to balance the use and conservation of the valuable fishes and minerals in our EEZ. But, there must be a sustainable solution that protects the integrity of the oceanic food webs and the diversity of life in the deep ocean.
“In closing I would like to inform the public that the book is available at the Department of Conservation Services’ Library at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo. Alternatively, the book can be purchased online at www.springer.com.”