Two Appointed To Sargasso Sea Commission

October 4, 2022 | 0 Comments

On September 27, 2022, the Bermuda Cabinet approved the appointment of two International Experts to the Sargasso Sea Commission that was established by the Hamilton Declaration on Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea, signed in Bermuda on March 11, 2014.

A spokesperson said, “The two incoming Commissioners are Mrs. Rochelle Newbold, Special Advisor on Climate Change & Environmental Matters, Office of the Prime Minister, Nassau, The Bahamas, who was re-appointed for another term; and Professor Murray Roberts, a Professor of Applied Marine Biology & Ecology in the School of Geosciences at the University of Edinburgh.

A Look At The Sargasso Sea [footage courtesy of Greenpeace]:

“Dr Murray Roberts is a first-time appointment, and brings with him a wealth of scientific expertise, particularly in regards to cold water corals. He also runs two international research programmes, ATLAS, and iAtlantic, which collect data on the Sargasso Sea. He has been a long-time supporter of the Commission’s work, both in principle and in practice, arranging for the University of Edinburg to become a collaborating partner of the Commission, and for iAtlantic and other projects he manages to co-finance the Commission’s French Facility for Global Environment [FFEM] funded ‘SARGADOM’ project.

“He has participated participated in offshore research expeditions off Norway, Scotland, Ireland, Western Africa and the Southeast USA. He is also the author of the most cited paper on cold-water coral biology and geology in 2006 [Science 312: 543-547] and the only textbook on cold-water corals [Cambridge University Press, 2009].

“He also has experience working at the science/policy interface at an international level, acting as a consultant for the Convention on Biological Diversity to produce an updated synthesis on the impacts of ocean acidification and to draft the ‘Voluntary specific workplan on biodiversity in cold-water areas within the jurisdictional scope of the Convention’. Dr. Murray Roberts will be a valuable asset to the Commission, bringing high calibre scientific expertise, as well as the ability to work across the fields of science and policy to effect conservation outcomes.

“The Declaration requires that the Commissioners themselves be “distinguished scientists and other persons of international repute committed to the conservation of high seas ecosystems that would serve in their personal capacity.” The new Commissioners will work alongside current Commissioners, Dr Tammy Warren, Senator Wilfred Moore, Professor Stephen de Mora, and Mr. Mark Spalding.

“The Commission would also like to take this opportunity to express its sincere gratitude to Professor Howard Roe, whose third term as Commissioner has just come to an end, the maximum appointment allowed by the guidelines set out in the Hamilton Declaration. Professor Howard Roe is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Southampton, with over fifty years of experience in marine science and authorship of over 100 books, papers, and reports.

“He has authored or co-authored many important publications for the Sargasso Sea Commission, including the Sargasso Sea’s chapter in the first and second UN World Ocean Assessments, has formed an integral part of the Sargasso Sea Commission’s team of consultants for the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna [ICCAT], as well as presenting on scientific topics at numerous Sargasso Sea Commission events. His expertise on all aspects of the Sargasso Sea ecosystem, and his institutional knowledge of the Sargasso Sea Commission, will be greatly missed.

The Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban expressed his approval stating, “I was delighted to get to meet several of the Sargasso Sea Commissioners this June in Lisbon at the UN Ocean Conference. I am pleased that Mrs Rochelle Newbold will continue to serve on the Commission and that Dr Murray Roberts will have the opportunity to bring his unique expertise to the table.”

“The two appointments were warmly welcomed by Dr David Freestone, Executive Secretary of the Sargasso Sea Commission, who said “We are very pleased to continue to work with Commissioner Newbold, with her expertise in diplomacy, and we are delighted to appoint Dr Murray Roberts, a distinguished scientist who has supported the Commission in myriad ways over the years, though never in the role of Commissioner until now.”

The spokesperson added, “The Sargasso Sea Commission is a unique institution. It is appointed by the Government of Bermuda with the support of the Government Signatories of the Hamilton Declaration. Its formal role is to act as the Steward of this iconic high seas ecosystem and to keep its health, productivity, and resilience under review, as well as to develop safeguard measures for its conservation. It is also innovative as Commissioners are appointed primarily according to their scientific expertise and suitability, and serve in their personal capacity rather than being representatives of the Signatory Governments.

“As of September 2022, the ten Signatory Governments to the Hamilton Declaration are the Azores, The Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, the Dominican Republic, the Principality of Monaco, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Commission celebrated its five-year anniversary three years ago with a workshop held at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences in March 2019.”

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