Future Of Bermuda’s Exclusive Economic Zone

November 9, 2014

1-Fullscreen capture 11062014 53753 PMThe Government has released the report on the future of Bermuda’s marine Exclusive Economic Zone [EEZ], saying that “it is premature to establish a firm or definitive position on the future of the EEZ at this time.”

A spokesperson said, “This report outlines the major findings and conclusions arising from the public consultation that was carried out by the Sustainable Development Department [SDD] over a two-month period September 4 through October 31, 2013, while targeted stakeholder’s discussions took place in November, 2013.

“The initial question asked at the outset of this consultation was, “Should Bermuda establish a large no-take marine reserve within the offshore waters of our EEZ?”

“The concept was to protect the more distant waters of our EEZ while allowing for some measure of current and potential marine activities.

“It is important to note that the term “marine reserve” indicates a “no-take” zone with a prohibition on all extraction from any component of the reserve. A “no-take” marine reserve therefore means no fishing, no seabed mining, no algae harvesting, etc.

“What quickly emerged was that Bermuda wished to view this as a question about the future of Bermuda’s EEZ. This overarching question of “What should we do with our EEZ?” allows for examination of a range of options on how to best use the EEZ.

“This allowed Bermuda to examine and assess the question of whether or not to establish a marine reserve as well as consider other options on the future use of our EEZ.”

“The information sharing phase of the public consultation included several significant steps designed to reach the broadest possible range of local stakeholders to stimulate interest and participation. It was anticipated that this would secure the views of the residents of Bermuda as well as the views from those outside of Bermuda with a strong interest in the future of our EEZ.

“Throughout the consultation, respondents were encouraged to support their position with a justification and rationale to substantiate their respective case. The resulting arguments from the public form the basis of this report representing the major issues arising out of the consultation.

“This consultation resulted in significant participation from the public who expressed material support for establishing a marine reserve as well as strong support for more information that explored and evaluated the economic potential of various proposals.

“The report contends that the decision on the most appropriate way forward for this asset should reflect a solid understanding of the impact on key economic indicators such as the potential for attracting direct foreign investment; enabling local investment and economic stimulus; spawning local entrepreneurship; creating jobs for Bermudians; contributing to our GDP; diversifying our economic base and model; strengthening our international profile; and increasing our global competitiveness.

“A comprehensive economic analysis of each option will form the basis of the next phase. In order to determine the best use of our EEZ, now and in the future, a holistic and sustainable economic forecast and profile for each of the various options is required.

“It may be that all or none or a combination of the options will be projected as the most beneficial to Bermuda’s long-term welfare. Nonetheless, a more rigorous evaluation of the identified options should provide the Government and people of Bermuda with a reliable economic profile to inform future decision making.

Premier Michael Dunkley said, “This first phase of consultation did not include the level of rigour now understandably being requested.

“Based on what we now know, with the range of views regarding the way forward for our EEZ, the level of confidence with this current knowledge, and the current data gap, this Government believes that it is premature to establish a firm or definitive position on the future of the EEZ at this time.”

He added, “The forecasted benefits require a more in-depth and reliable level of due diligence to arrive at a point where benefits, risks and costs can be reasonably quantified and a sustainable position can be taken.”

The report is available electronically on the Sustainable Development Department website www.sdbermuda.bm [PDF here], or by email request to sdd@gov.bm.

A limited number of printed copies are available from the office of the Sustainable Development Department, 3rd Floor, 129 Front Street, Ingham & Wilkinson Building.

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Category: All, Environment