Opinion Column On Future Of Marine EEZ Area

October 21, 2013

ocean sea generic 5[Opinion column written by Nick Hutchings]

It was with increasing alarm that I read the recent story headlined: Banks’ ratings lowered as S&P expresses concern about Island’s economy.Standard and Poor’s [S&P],having just lowered Bermuda’s “anchor rating” which determines the amount of interest Government pays on our public debt,now says “economic risks for Bermudian banks have increased”.

The credit rating agency went on to say“the Bermudian banking sector is less than half way through our full-cycle loan-loss projection of $450 million to $500 million”.

I’m no expert but a $.5 billion hit on the Banks at this time has got to hurt. The S&P report puts our actual current unemployment rate at 12% and predicts it will rise to 14% by next year; I guess they mean when the new hospital is finished. This is unheard of in Bermuda and you don’t have to be an economist to understand the meaning of:“Moreover, we assess the trend for economic risks to be negative largely based on our projections for unemployment and economic growth”. Things are getting worse not better.

One of the major depressors on economic growth has to be the public debt. Government’s ability to borrow for capital projects that would normally act to stimulate the economy has been tapped out. We have run out of headroom so the only thing Government can borrow money for is to pay the interest on the debt we carry already.

Against this backdrop we are being invited to participate in a public consultation process as part of a move to transform a huge section of our exclusive economic zone [EEZ] into a marine reserve [MR] which would put any commercial activity “out of bounds”.

Bermudians gained sovereign rights over the EEZ by proclamation of His Excellency the Governor on June 11, 1996. These rights are for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources within a200 nautical mile radius around Bermuda that covers approximately 464,940 square km of ocean, an area one and a half times the size of the UK.

Without doubt the EEZ is, by orders of magnitude, Bermuda’s greatest physical asset. The choice now before us will have far reaching consequences and is probably the most important decision we will face in decades.

The Government consultation process is being managed by the Department of Sustainable Development so the principles of sustainability should apply. This will likely lead to a discussion about which of the three pillars of sustainable development i.e. the social environment, economic environment or natural environment is most important.The obvious conclusion being that any attempt to privilege one over the others is a mistake.

However,given that we are being asked to make an “all or nothing”decision for such a large and potentially valuable percentage of Bermuda’s sovereign territory, some level of risk analysis is appropriate. So it is important to ask yourself which of the local environments is most “at risk”: the social – safe neighborhoods, adequate housing, affordable health care, education, etc.;the economic – community wide access to the broad spectrum of career path opportunity, jobs, pensions, economic growth, etc.;the natural –ocean organisms resident or transiting the EEZ, etc.?

An “exploratory” economic study paid for by the Pew Environmental Group leading the Blue Halo movement and used for the economic data in the Government’s consultation document states that “extractive activities” [deep sea mining] “would not be compatible with the preservation concept of the Blue Halo so this possibility must be considered as an opportunity cost.”

So, what will this lost opportunity cost Bermuda? No one has ever written a review of deep sea minerals within the proposed Blue Halo so we don’t know the true value of mineral resources to be placed “out of bounds”. However one thing is certain, without commercial exploration we will never know the value of those natural resources.

What we do know is this:

  • Gas Hydrates, manganese nodules and polymetalic crusts are found in similar deep ocean environments.
  • Earlier this year JOGMEC [Japan Oil Gas and Metals National Corporation] succeeded in extracting natural gas from sea-bed deposits of gas hydrate. JOGMEC is contemplating commercial gas production from hydrates as early as 2016 and an Indo-US scientific joint venture in 2006 discovered the thickest-ever deposits in volcanic ash sediments near a chain of volcanic islands.
  • In the Cook Islands,commercial exploration has confirmed manganese nodule deposits estimated in a government-commissioned paper to be worth US$146 billion. Needless to say, unlike Bermuda, the Cook Islands credit rating is going up.
  • In 2003, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute [WHOI] discovered polymetalic crusts on the Muir Seamount [out of bounds in the proposed Blue Halo] indicating strategic and precious metal content is likely in the $billions.

The Nautilus Minerals seafloor production [mining] system could be in operation as early as next year and almost certainly within the next half decade. As a result, worldwide investor interest in deep sea mining is about to “take off” but investors will not commit $millions to fund commercial mineral exploration in a “no take” marine reserve.

Closer to home on the Bermuda Seamount chain, potential mineral reserves include ultramafic-hosted massive sulfides and polymetalic crusts. Highly profitable deep sea mining operations will be a reality in the near future.

In April 2009, a wide range of stakeholders from 20 countries pondered the environmental impact at a conference on seabed mining convened by scientists at WHOI [Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute]. They were impressed by the industry’s commitment to “doing it right” and the quality of their evidence based environmental impact assessment of deep sea mining. As one marine ecologist put it, “mining one site probably won’t make much of a difference”

That is of course, it would not make much of a difference to the natural environment but, by substantially reducing public debt, a single, carefully targeted deep sea mine would make a very significant difference to the social and economic environments of Bermuda.

Timing is everything as they say but if we are seen to be anti-mining, this opportunity will pass us by. Without the benefit of quantifiable, primary data from commercial exploration we can’t say whether it is possible or probable that we have an ultra-rich, debt busting mineral resource within our EEZ but considering what is at stake, I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would want to deny Bermuda the opportunity to find out.

- Nick Hutchings

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Articles that link to this one:

  1. Future Of Marine EEZ ‘Community Conversation’ | Bernews.com | October 23, 2013
  1. Check your facts..... says:

    This peice goes along with Dr. Saul’s argument about making too hasty a decision on the utilization of Bermuda’s EEZ. We must(!) make informed decisions on the use of this area which will have lasting effects for many generations of Bermudians. I understand and support the need for environmental safety, but to only think about this in sacrifice to the potential economic benefits goes against the Sustainable Development theory.

    Why hasn’t a survey been done? Surely this has to be considered before a decision is made?

  2. really says:

    If you are relying on mineral extraction to save us from public debt, then you will be waiting a long time. Our debt is now, mineral extraction viability is many years away. The financial argument is misguided regardless of whether you actually believe there are viable mineral deposits.

    • DarkSideofTheMoon says:

      Our debt is now and ongoing for many years. Therefore even if what you say is true about “mineral extraction” it will still benefit Bermuda.

      • Jason Semos says:

        Will it? Do some googling on what’s happened in Papa New Guinea right now with Nautilus Inc.(seabed mining company.

        This does not appear to be the magic answer for island communities it’s being portrayed as. Doesn’t appear to be too much more than experimental at this stage – with no assurances as to how environmentally responsible it really is in practice. This article’s from just last year.


        Seems like a lot of concern in the Cook Islands, too.

  3. Missing the point says:

    A Marine Reserve of the most restrictive type allows for scientific and educational work. This includes research on and searching for various minerals. If it were to ever become viable to extract, it would further be a trivial exercise to modify the relevant legislation at that point to allow extracting in a defined area carved out of the whole zone.

    • Jason Semos says:

      People need to read this post – and then read the proposals for the Marine Reserve for themselves.

      No disrespect to Mr. Hutchings, but phrase of “all or nothing” being repeated in this article and Dr. Saul’s recent public appearances seems disingenuous. I have yet to see where the scientific exploration Dr. Saul, etc. keep calling for before making a decision is prohibited by the creation of the Blue Halo. What am I missing?

      What are the recent objections from key public figures to Blue Halo really about? Because the more I read articles like the one above the more it appears to me to be primarily about protecting their ability to secure investments.

  4. Aware says:

    Mr Hutching and Dr Saul are, of course, welcome to expresss their opinions.

    But it is suggested here that these views typify a generation that became very good at exploiting natural resources at any (environmental)cost for immediate wealth. Only this wealth was often generated for a minority of people.

    Looking at other similar models: rain forests in Central and South America, Nigerian oil, Gulf of Mexico oil… this is not usually sustainable, and carries a high risk.

    I agree with ‘Missing the Point’ – legislation is constantly changing/changeable. It makes sense to protect what we have now and alter once we know that mineral extraction is economically and environmentally viable.

    We can’t retrospectively protect our beautiful natural environment!

    • Concerned Citizen says:

      Before pew showed up with millions to throw around, you green folk never even discussed our EEZ. What’s the difference between an economic hit man and an environmental (money chasing) hit man? Not much! You folk are just chasing the money like parasites! I support sustainable mining and fishing, not the falsehoods and propaganda spewed by folk who have never been beyond 30nm from Bermuda! Oh wait a minute…..we must solely depend on IB….I forgot……trickle down stuff for the people. No need for diversification……that’s it…..OR is it that the Blue Economy is not an OBA initiative…….non-productive parasites…..chasing Pew’s money

      • Jason Semos says:

        That’s simply not true. Pew was invited by our former Government to assist them in this initiative.

        It would be interesting to know more about what exactly would be expected to “trickle down” to Bermuda, were Dr. Saul’s company to have their way and move forward with mining in a Marine Mammal sanctuary.

        Where were their objections to that designation? Why now?

        • Michael Batista says:


          3 questions;

          1. What does Blue Halo give us that we do not have now?

          2. Do you feel that the public has been presented with balanced and impartial data or projections upon which we are supposed to make this critical decision?

          3. Given that BDA is beyond broke and this HAS to cost us; where do you propose we get the money from?

          • Jason Semos says:

            Hey Michael,

            Hope all’s well.

            1. An important stepping stone to increasing protection of the Sargasso Sea. I think that will be an even greater benefit in the long run to those who make their living off the ocean around Bermuda.

            2. No. I feel Dr. Saul and his company’s shareholders are misrepresenting the Blue Halo initiative for obvious reasons. Protecting your business investments is one thing, but the arguments I’ve heard so far against the Blue Halo initiative don’t sound like 100% of the story to me. Hopefully, this paper or the other will do some digging.

            3. I think Bermuda’s starting in the right place – assess, clean house and encourage people to reinvest/invest. As has been pointed out – nothing about creating the Blue Halo prevents further exploration. And if any evidence is found to suggest seabed mining as a viable option in the future, it’ll be pushed through in a heartbeat, regardless of any marine reserve designation. It’s ridiculous to think otherwise.

            Catch you later.

            • Michael Batista says:

              Thanks Jason.

              1. Interesting choice of words… a stepping stone. We should be careful we’re not being stepped ON. We are being rushed to sign away any potential benefit from our soveriegn water with no gaurantee of enforcement assistance, no money to enforce it ourselves and no independent economic impact analysis. I cannot accept that, nor that we must do this so US NGOs can proceed with protecting the international waters of the Sargasso Sea.

              Does it not seem backwards that we, who are not abusing our resources, are being pressed to sign this away as a “stepping stone” to address IUU fishing in international waters?

              We must not let emotion and effective PR beat out rational thought.

              • Michael Batista says:

                2. In light of the massive Blue Halo PR campaign that PEW has bought, I can’t believe you would begrudge the opinions of these folks who have looked into the potential of our EEZ.

                Virtually everything pushed into the public perception has come from one source. We don’t even have independent analysis on this proposal that wasn’t paid for by PEW.

                Sustainable Development by definition requires balancing environmental, economic and social considerations. We’re being rushed to make this decision with a huge imbalance in how this has been presented in the public eye. That’s where we’re not hearing 100% of the story…

              • Jason Semos says:

                There’s nothing rational about accusing those who disagree with you about what may be better for Bermuda in the long term, as emotional or more easily swayed by PR.

            • Michael Batista says:

              3. You didn’t answer the question ;-)

              • Jason Semos says:

                I guess I misunderstood the question. What massive costs are you envisioning?

                • Michael Batista says:

                  We keep being told this is about protection. Imaginary lines and grandiose proclamations mean nothing without enforcement resources.

                  We can’t even put gas in the boats for our 2 fisheries wardens while clear and present threats to our near shore fishery are happening every day.

                  Who is going to pay for enforcement? What is it going to cost us… Bermuda?

  5. Nick Hutchings says:

    First I would like to say that I did request that “in good conscious” be removed from the last sentence of my opinion piece before it was published because, upon reflection, I think that supporters of a marine reserve do hold their opinions on the matter in good conscious as I do mine.

    Really I think that if we rely on scientific exploration alone to discover our mineral resources we will indeed be waiting a long time.

    Also, there are many bad examples of natural resource management but there are some good examples as well. I think we should at look at Norway. They have not ruined the natural environment by developing their North Sea oil fields and, because oil like minerals is a finite resource, the Government created a sovereign account into which they deposited some of their oil revenues. In this way, when the oil runs out, the sovereign account will take over and continue to provide economic benefit long into the future.

    I have a persistent and stubborn faith in Bermudians. I think when the facts are in we will make a wise decision.

    • Bernews says:

      This is correct, it was supposed to be removed, our error! Sorry!

  6. thief says:

    Let’s make Bermuda a Marine Haven and lose the Tax Haven stigma.

    Finding a pot of gold to pay off our debt is a dream. Finding billions of $ early next year is laughable.

    We can be a Marine Haven tomorrow with complete authority, jurisdiction and power.

    • Michael Batista says:

      It’s not about next year, it’s about the future… perhaps beyond our lifetimes and we need to be thinking about it that way.

      We already have the authority and jurisdiction;

      Fisheries Act 1972

      “Foreign fishing vessels
      7 (1) Subject to this section, where any person on board a foreign vessel takes any fish within the exclusive economic zone then that person and also the master or other person in charge of the vessel each commit an offence:
      Punishment on summary conviction: subject to section 14, a fine of $1,000,000 and the vessel used in such taking and the fish on board shall be liable to forfeiture.”

      Where’s the power coming from and how do you propose we pay for it?

      • Jessie Murdoch says:

        That law has exceptions, as Taiwanese and Japanese vessels were licensed to fish in our EEZ in the 1990′s. Government revoked those licenses in the later part of the decade to protect Bermudian fishermen’s catches. What’s to say we wouldn’t license foreign vessels again, and make money off the licenses? A no take zone of any size (since government is open to all sizes) would remove that potential – Bermudian fishing interests would be 100% protected.

        • Michael Batista says:

          Bermuda… where we import over 70% of our seafood while surrounded by hundreds of thousands of square kilomteres of sustainable soveriegn water.

          With a no take reserve, Bermudian fishing interests would be 75% less likely to reach their potential in decades to come.

          Someone, somewhere is meeting the demands of our seafood consumption… and we have no control over how they are doing it. Blue Halo won’t fix that.

  7. Kathy says:

    Money, money, money….

    I think Bermuda has missed the mark on fixing its economic woes on all levels. We are foolish to think that this futuristic underwater deep sea mining is the answer to our current debt and job losses.

    Our number one problem is that we are too tied to the almighty US $ which on a global scale is currently losing its integrity. Bermuda needs to take a sharp tack to attract high wealth individuals to Bermuda – please take the time to watch this programme on Dubai – a city built in less than 20 years out of sand!


    Where do we think all of our offshore money is going? To more chic offshore places like Dubai, St. Barths, etc. Bermuda lacks the ingenuity and creativity of a “new product”. We are “stale bread” at the moment and quite a “boring” product.

    We don’t need to rape our sea floors in order to solve our debt problem. Instead, we need to create the world’s largest marine park in the world and then attract high wealth individuals to solve our financial problems. “Build it and they will come”. What about creating large underwater homes for foreign nationals? Sounds wacky, but they thought they were crazy in Dubai when they build Palm Jumeirah out of sand!


  8. concerned Bermudian says:

    Thanks to Nick Hutchings and Dr. Saul for informing us before we are
    led like lemmings over the cliff.
    The two different scenarios are making it difficult for most citizens to
    fathom out and send in by the deadline next week of October 31.

    Any chance of a large ad with a tear off strip to make it easily understandable:
    “I do not support the Blue Halo project unless it allows for exploration of
    possible minerals or research in the sea bed”.
    “I do not support an “All or nothing” inclusive Blue Halo”

    • Kathy says:

      We already are a bunch of lemmings!

    • Michael Batista says:

      CC you are right that Dr. Saul and Mr. Hutchings should be applauded for trying to provide some balance to this discussion. It takes courage to stick your neck out publicly, and when seen as players with “skin in the game” they will of course be vilified by BH supporters. It’s easy to shoot the messengers but it takes a lot more work and thought to seek objectivity.

      I don’t care who invited who to buy what public opinion. The public deserves balanced and impartial analyses and evaluation to provide input on a decision of this magnitude. We haven’t seen that and quite frankly can’t afford to pay for it. The BH decision should NOT be a matter of national priority right now, period.

      We should get behind the wider Sargasso Sea initiatives 110%, offering every possible support we can. Meanwhile we can commit to developing a Bermudian solution for responsible management of our EEZ… based our our great track record for conservation, as/when we can afford it… and in our own time.

      • Jason Semos says:


        it’s not about shooting the messenger, imo.

        Again, creating the Blue Halo will not impact further exploration. If anything’s found down the road in sufficient quantities for extraction to be viable – it will be, regardless of the Blue Halo.

        So why is this false message of “all or nothing” being pushed so hard by those with “skin in the game”. Is it really about “saving Bermuda”? Or not wanting to threaten possible future investment in one particular company in Bermuda?

        So why not “get behind the wider Sargasso Sea initiatives 110%” now?

        I guess I just don’t understand your logic here.


        • Jessie Murdoch says:

          Michael, you say “We should get behind the wider Sargasso Sea initiatives 110%, offering every possible support we can.” – the best way we can support the Sargasso Sea initiative is by protecting part of our EEZ because otherwise we are hypocrites. We are the leaders in an international agreement to protect the Sargasso Sea (global government reps will be coming to Bermuda to sign the Hamilton Declaration, which gives protection to the Sargasso Sea)- if we don’t protect even a small portion of our piece of the Sargasso Sea, it would void that leadership and we would have to answer to the global community with egg on our faces. That sure won’t help the economy.

          As Jason said, where are people hearing this is all or nothing? Government is exploring options of all shapes and sizes, different tiers for different activities etc.

          • Michael Batista says:

            I’m sorry but I cannot reconcile that we must sign off on Blue Halo to THEN find out what the Hamilton declaration will do for us… are we locking ourselves out of our EEZ based on whispers, innuendos and whatever Chis says? Clearly a cart before the horse scenario.

            • Jessie Murdoch says:

              Blue Halo and government are separate. Government is interested in all options – small to big reserves, pacman shape etc. Blue Halo is an advocacy group so it is their mandate to want to protect the whole thing.

              Innuendos? Whispers? What on earth do you think is happening?

              You obviously hear what you want to hear and are not open for discussion of any sort.

              • Michael Batista says:

                Thank you for pointing out that Blue Halo and Government are separate. That’s a very good point that underscores my issue with lack of balance in the public presentation of the proposal, i.e. it’s been ALL Blue Halo to date. Government (SDD), realizing this, is now scrambling to provide some other view points.

                Whispers addressed below.

                And I’m sorry you feel that way. I thought we were having a good discussion.

          • Michael Batista says:

            “Environmentalist says bigger marine reserve is the ‘only option’”

  9. Honesty Please says:

    Did you know Ocean Projects Limited, a pioneer in Bermudian sub-sea mineral prospecting, has already begun to study a relatively small portion of the seabed (the size of Staten Island) within Bermuda’s EEZ. Did you also know that both David Saul and Nick Hucthing have affiliations with this company and therefore they have A LOT to gain if subsea mining is viable in Bermuda! I find it infuriating that neither of them mentions this!

    • Jessie Murdoch says:

      Thank you! It’s fine to post articles like this as long as you clearly lay out your bias and interests. Hutchings and Saul are not writing balanced articles that look at two sides of the equation – they are interested in getting exclusive mining rights to the entire EEZ and making profit based on the speculation that there are minerals (ie watching stock go up as they write these articles) . I’m all for balance and looking at every angle – this is the opposite.

  10. Kathy says:


    If the government built 200 of these around Bermuda at $10million each – it adds up to $10,000,000,000! That would pay the Bermuda debt and there would be plenty of $$ left over for those out of work!

    ALL in favour of the first and largest marine park in the world??

    • cicada says:

      Kathy – that is $10M each in COST to the government, not income.

  11. Jay Kempe says:

    It is counter-productive to shoot the messengers (Dr. Saul and Nick Hutchings) and not focus on their messages. Their main point is that ALL of Bermuda has potentially MUCH to lose if the Blue Halo “no take” policy is implemented. No serious commercial enterprises will ever invest to explore/prospect in such a scenario and ergo nothing will ever be found.

    Why can’t the “no take” zone ONLY include the water column (which is 100% of the marine environment anyway!) and leave the sea bed in bounds to encourage exploration? This way we get a win/win. Marine environment protected until something valuable found and then deep sea mining only permitted if it can be done environmentally responsibly.

    The rigid (all or nothing) “no take” policy being pushed by Blue Halo is just too extreme (and unnecessary) in the circumstances.

    • Jessie Murdoch says:

      You have to separate Blue Halo from government. Government (which has the final say) is interested in options of all shapes and sizes for the reserve – small halo, Pacman shape, whatever we the people want based on our needs and ideas. Blue Halo is an advocacy group for the Sargasso Sea and EEZ, so it is their mandate to protect as much if the ocean as they can.

  12. Jason Semos says:

    Honesty Please,

    I feel Mr. Hutchings has been upfront about his associations with Ocean Projects Ltd – Bermuda. He’s publicly stated he was the Chairman of the company and was quoted in the Royal Gazette in 2007 as saying:

    “We have an exploration licence with the Bermuda Government and that means we have exclusive rights to negotiate with the Government for mining lease should we discover a mineral deposit.”

    • Jessie Murdoch says:

      I think Honesty is concerned that a lot of people will not dig that deep to find this information, and that it should be clearly written in the article so that it is not misleading.

      • Michael Batista says:

        Likewise a lot of people should dig deep enough to find out who has paid for ALL of the Blue Halo proposal and marketing and ask themselves if a US NGO with an unabashed agenda truly has our national best interests at heart.

        While they’re asking, they should find out if said NGO has any plans to promote a no take reserve in 75% of the USA’s EEZ also.

        • cicada says:

          Do you mean like the Billfish Foundation, who are a US organization with an obvious self-interest and personal agenda, and who have been secretly involved in meddling with this Bermudian discussion whole time?

          • Michael Batista says:

            The Billfish Foundation is not the NGO proposing via Blue Halo that we lock ourselves out of 75% of our EEZ.

            They are advocates for sport fishing and related industries the world over, who face monumental pressures from the likes of PEW, with $3-4 billion at their disposal. TBF are just another entity that has been ASKED by Bermudians to help bring some balance to this lopsided presentation.

            Each visiting sport fishing boat here in June, July August is worth an average of 1500 cruise ship visitors in terms of foreign capital spent here.

            Sport fishing is not the problem with the world’s oceans… it’s just an easy target. Ask the Australians.

          • Michael Batista says:

            And there’s been nothing secret about the TBF engaging this discussion. Chris Flook sat in on a meeting with them wearing his Blue Halo shirt… I was there. This has been on their website for almost a year for anyone who cared to look;


            They just don’t have the money available to take out half page ads once a week with various people standing in water up to their knees.

      • Nick Hutchings, Ocean Projects Ltd. says:

        Point taken Jesssie.

        Unfortunately, the choice before us is defined in the Government consultation document which explicitly states “establishing a marine reserve is a commitment not to take anything from the protected area”. We are being asked whether we want a “no take” marine reserve of some size or not. My answer is no until there is an option for the carefully managed use of our natural resources including deep sea minerals.

        • Jessie Murdoch says:

          Do you think “carefully managed” natural resources means allowing one company rights to mine the whole area and not keep any protected for ecological reasons? That is the opposite of sustainable.

          Again, Government is looking at all options, including having areas that are protected/no take and areas that are open to exploration. I’m open to the idea of tiers or a pacman shape, but since Ocean Projects has exclusive mining rights in the EEZ I understand why you don’t see this as an option.

  13. Danny Fox says:

    A very interesting debate. On the one hand Halo supporters are saying no to deep sea mining, and on the other they are saying continue and if something is found we will let you do it. A very interesting sign that Nick and David are having an impact.

    The Bottom Line is that our Government already decides who fishes or who mines in our EEZ. They are better positioned to make that decision because they represent the balanced need of their constituents. So why would they even consider complicating this process by involving foreign NGO’s that have demonstrated unethical and scare mongering behaviors or tendencies.

    The Sargasso Sea Alliance is a bold initiative and is probably decades away from becoming a reality. Bermuda having a MR will have no impact on any of these countries signing on. They will decide on their own accord and interest.

    So I ask has Michael has what does a Halo give us that we do not have today?

  14. Captain 2 make it happen says:

    Now, a couple of things jump out at me. The first being the size of the proposed marine reserve, how the hell can Bermuda, without any help from the PEW organization, even dream of patrolling and enforcing a marine reserve “one and half times the size of the UK”? If a reserve is not patrolled and enforced it only exists on paper… (this is currently true of the EEZ).
    A large majority of the sea life in this proposed area is pelagic, meaning it roams the open ocean, I don’t remember seeing humpback whales, marlin, tiger shark, tuna, wahoo, consistently in Bermuda waters in large numbers, these species come and go, being a fisherman, I should know. No, these species travel thousands of miles. Take a look at the satellite tagging studies done on Blue Marlin and Tiger Sharks, unless we extend the marine reserve a thousand miles to the southwest, into the Bahamas, there is no way this reserve will actually protect these species.
    So the only marine life that would actually be protected are the species that inhabit the ocean floor, and if deep sea mining can be conducted in a manner that does not cause significant damage to the vast desert ecosystem of the ocean floor…As it stands we know more about the surface of the moon than the bottom of the ocean, we may want to know what is down there before we take it off the table of the global economy.

    • Jessie Murdoch says:

      “unless we extend the marine reserve a thousand miles to the southwest, into the Bahamas, there is no way this reserve will actually protect these species”

      The idea is to protect the Sargasso Sea in conjunction with part of the EEZ, so those areas would be protected. Also there are critical habitats for many species in the EEZ, and if these are protected the fish have a better chance at reproducing successfully (ie bluefin tuna and marlin spawn in the EEZ).

      Bermuda knows it cannot fully enforce the halo without some outside help – as you said we do a bad job of enforcement now. That is the goal as well – protecting the EEZ and Sargasso Sea will be an international issue that will draw support for enforcement from the US and elsewhere.

      • Michael Batista says:


        That “support for enforcement”… can you show me that in writing before we further consider this massive stepping stone we’re being asked to sacrifice?

        This is what I mean about whispers. Supporting documents are full of things that “could”, “might” and “may” happen. I can’t accept what we’re being asked to sign away on that basis.

        And even if it were in writing, do you truly believe that the US, who can’t control their own porous borders and are now over 17 Trillion dollars in debt are going divert enough resources to police this area effectively? For a country that half their Congress thinks is a tax haven and a threat? Please…

        • The whispers issue is about the nature of proof. It is very rare for scientists to speak in absolutes in scientific documents or to the press, although they may in educational material for the sake of clarity. All science is based on probabilities, many of which do reach levels close to absolute though.

      • Brent says:

        This discussion (and the many others that are ongoing) reinforce my view that we are being asked to make a major decision without the requisite studies or facts. Blue Halo and its ardent supporters continue to throw out circumstantial evidence and anecdotes to support their view. The comments by Ms. Murdoch above only serve to confirm my suspicions about the lack of scientific basis for this MPA. I believe Ms. Murdoch is a biologist (and married to one) and she states that bluefin tuna spawn in the EEZ as if it is a FACT. Well, the research is very limited on this subject and the research suggests that it is NOT A FACT. Lutcavage et al have done the most exhaustive study thus far on the subject and the most concrete outcome they arrived at was that due to the presence of spawning age tuna in the Sargasso Sea near the time similar age tunas were spawning in confirmed spawning zones (the med and Gulf of Mexico) then it follows that the Sargasso Sea MAY be a spawning location for Bluefin.

        My point is not to argue whether or not Bluefin spawn in the EEZ or not (I hope they do!) but rather to illuminate how some of the BH supporters with scientific bona fides are misrepresenting their so-called “facts” and the average citizen would have no reason to believe they were being misrepresented. Importantly, we need to have a proper non-biased study on this area conducted before any lasting decisions are made….. and this will cost money and take time. Bermudians deserve the facts.

        • Brent says:

          Apologies, i reread my comment and I made a mistake that could be misinterpreted… I meant to say that I do NOT believe Ms. Murdoch is a biologist but is married to a biologist.

          • Ms. Murdoch has an MSc in Marine Environmental Management from U. York Uk. Who are you?

          • I am an oceanographer and ecologist. Brent, it is easy to bash others, especially while behind a nickname.

            • Brent says:

              Thad, I was not “bashing” anyone. I was pointing out that your wife (with the MSc in marine environmental management) was incorrect in stating that it is a fact Bluefin tuna spawn in our waters. Brent is not a nickname…… my name is Brent Slade.

  15. Danny Fox says:

    It is protected already we already decide who fishes in our EEZ. Whatever PEW can do with enforcement we can do as a Country. The issue is can we afford it and is it necessary. PEW did a great job in Australia with enforcement so what makes you think they can do a better job here. Australia is in the process of reversing can you imagine the cost to tax payers as a result of that erroneous decision.

  16. Captain 2 make it happen says:

    So Marlin (which species btw?) and bluefin tuna spawn in the EEZ, does that therefore mean we must create a “no take” Marine Reserve? Not necessarily, we should protect the spawning zones of these species, in a manner that is effective. Maybe a release only zone for those particular species during their spawning periods as opposed to an “untouchable” zone would be more effective. Also, the EEZ should already protect these species from foreign fishermen, and I can tell you that local fisherman do not commercially fish for marlin or bluefin tuna. The marlin that we catch are almost always safely released, the satellite tagging studies prove that catch and release is effective, the fish we release live. As for Bluefin tuna, the one a year we accidentally catch while fishing for other species is really killing the species and disrupting its spawning cycle… Surely all the bluefin being commercially fished in the USA and Canada in their feeding zones are not hurting the species at all and the blue halo will make a huge difference for the plight of Bluefin tuna in a way that actually enforcing the EEZ currently in place cannot… No it won’t!

  17. nancy valentine (NWV) says:

    The Pew Foundation has arrived in Bermuda from overseas and handed out tee shirts to school children and bumperstickers with a blue halo logo and thrown their money around and told Bermudians what to do with their island. They seem to think Bermudians don’t know enough to look after their own enviornment. The locals have been looking after their island very well and will continue to do without foreign interference

  18. Danny Fox says:

    Has anyone even seen the Hamilton Declaration? What are they signing on for discussion or making it happen? The only way it will even have a chance is if they fudge the boundaries and do not touch the US EEZ. The New England Sea Mounts are guess what full of minerals and if you think the US is going to give that up I got news for you. Yet you feel it is perfectly fine for us to do it. Makes no sense to me especially since our Government already controls our EEZ, and as much as PEW Blue Halo supporters consider it a done deal. IT’s NOT!

    Do you even read what you are posting. Do you understand our Ministers are reading this. If you think for 1 minute they wish to subject their selves to this on a continuing basis I have news for you their job is hard enough and they have more important issues to deal with. Like focusing on real issues the will get our economy going.

  19. Andy says:

    Blue Marlin are an endangered species and they spawn around Bermuda in the summer, which is exactly why the Rodney Dangerfield characters come to catch them. The dirty little secret is that when the big ones are cut open, they’re full of eggs. Tagging data shows that big spawning marlin have an extremely low “catch and release” survival rate. The tags disappear very quickly, either because they’re eaten by sharks or because they simply drown or die of shock or become diseased. The few fish that survive are usually small and were caught within a few minutes rather than much more stressful 30-90 minutes. How stupid and greedy is it to allow foreign fishermen to come in and kill an endangered species in our EEZ?

  20. Danny Fox says:


    You are at least correct about 1 thing long battles are not good every now and then it does occur, but most swim away and our effort is to get them quickly. However they do not go to waste Marlin studies done here have advanced science significantly as it relates to age studies and spawning activities. They are not an endangered species as you claim and I am not sure that Rodney Dangerfield ever competed in Marlin Tournaments, unless your inference is to classify us as comedians!

  21. Jay Kempe says:

    The discussion has reverted again to fishing, marlins, tunas, spawning, enforcement, etc., etc.

    I say again, make the WATER column the “no take” zone and leave the sea bed alone. Make the MPA as big as you like – even as big as Blue Halo want (starting at 50 miles out) – but leave sea bed alone. The sea bed needs to be left out of the equation so we can attract investment for exploration. What lies under (and for that matter on) our sea bed is potentially too valuable to eliminate because of slick and emotionally charged campaign by PEW/Blue Halo.

  22. Andy says:

    Mr. Kempe – Try finding a penny dropped to the bottom of a water tank that hasn’t been cleaned for a couple of decades. The whole tank gets mucked up with sediment which then clogs up your pump, pressure tank and household plumbing and results in pretty nasty tap water. Imagine the same thing happening ten thousand feet down, with millions of years of sediment which is then thrown up into the water column in plumes miles high and tens of miles long. Not good for deep sea habitats, fish in the water column, upwellings, reef habitats etc. That’s what the people in PNG and various Pacific islands are getting very upset about in respect of unscrupulous seabed mining carpet baggers.

  23. Alvin Williams says:

    One thing is for sure there is a massive campaign on the part of blue Halo
    supporters and their wealthy backers to block any opinion other than theirs as to what can be done with Bermuda’s EEZ. I submitted an opinion to the RG on this subject; but it is yet to see the light of day which proves that the idea of selected censorship is still alive and well in this country. But to no avail I still have my column in the Workers Voice and there it will be printed exposing another sector of the Bermudian community to this important issue. The Workers Voice also has it’s own web-page http://www.BIU.com for those who would like to see my opinion. I have also submitted it to the government environmental group who have ask Bermudians for their opinions and I can say up from that I do not agree that this important area should be close off to future economic development which can greatly benefit Bermuda.