Bermuda Youth Sign Sargasso Sea Declaration

March 18, 2014

Bermuda’s young people are setting the example for environmental awareness and conservation by signing a declaration to protect the Sargasso Sea.

Students attending the 2014 Bermuda Zoological Society Environmental Youth Conference: The Power of One, collaborated on, wrote and signed their own declaration of commitment to the protection of the Sargasso Sea, just days after the Hamilton Declaration was signed by international signatories including the Azores, Bermuda, Monaco, United Kingdom and United States.

Students signing the Declaration  under the watchful eye of Dr. Robbie Smith, Bermuda Natural History Museum curator.

2014-EYO-Declaration_StudentsSigning

Presenting their Declaration to Trevor Moniz, Minister of Health and the Environment, at the conclusion of the two-day conference, the student pronouncement pledged stewardship of endangered and threatened species that breed and migrate throughout the Sargasso Sea, and a commitment to education and awareness on the effects of over-fishing and marine debris, which affects everyone, globally.

Through the declaration, they are also committing themselves to being ambassadors for the Sargasso Sea, with the desire of connecting and collaborating with governments and charitable groups, as well as empowering others to protect our marine environments.

“As Minister for Health and the Environment, I was honoured to receive the Youth Declaration on behalf of Bermuda. Their passionate declaration expressed concerns about the need for conservation and international cooperation to help solve some of the problems,” said Minister Moniz.

“The BZS Youth Conference was a wonderful opportunity for Bermuda’s students to focus on the many dimensions of the Sargasso Sea, especially the great diversity of life associated with the Sargassum weed and the many species who regularly visit the Sargasso Sea to feed or reproduce.

Minister Moniz addressing students at the signing:

2014-EYO-Declaration_TMoniz

“Students learning about the problems facing the Sargasso Sea and developing ideas on how better management can reduce negative impacts is an inspiration. It is also important for them to learn that solutions are not always easy, which is why Bermuda has so many distant nations interested in helping protect and conserve the Sargasso Sea,” added the Minister.

“I was pleased to learn the students also got to do some hands-on work to study the Sargassum community, learn a bit more about the physical properties of sea water and examine the potential impact of plastic material floating in the ocean. They were able to construct artwork from found materials on our beaches, and assisted by local artist Graham Foster, created a mural about the Sargasso Sea.

Richard Winchell, BZS President, said, “I am proud that these young people recognize the challenges facing our shared environment and that they have come together to express the need for change. The proposed 2-million square mile high seas marine protected area in the Sargasso Sea is a significant step for sustainable management of the oceans around Bermuda.”

Artwork created by students from recycled marine debris:

2014-EYO-Declaration_RecycledArt

Dr. Jamie Bacon, BZS Education Officer was equally inspired by Bermuda’s youth, “Hearing the students do a choral reading of their Youth Declaration for Minister Moniz gives me great hope.

“Their combined commitment to the environment in general, and to the Sargasso Sea in particular, demonstrates the power of education – and the importance of getting young people involved in preserving the environment not only for their generation, but for those that will follow. If we can ignite such leadership among our young people, then there is hope for the future.”

The BZS Youth Conference was made possible through the support of the Ernest E. Stempel Foundation. The Foundation’s continued support through the years demonstrates their dedication to teaching future generations about our environment, as well as a long-term vision for the protection of Bermuda’s natural heritage. BZS said they are grateful for the support of its partners the Sargasso Sea Alliance, BAMZ, BIOS, KBB, and BEN.

The Youth Declaration follows below [PDF here]:

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