*Image supplied
*Image supplied
The question about whether Bermuda should have a marine reserve has been put out to consultation government has announced.

A consultation document has been released as a tool to inform and assist the public in “better understanding the issues and implications” of whether or not a “no-take” marine reserve should be established in the offshore waters if our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Experts in economics, science and Bermuda’s cultural history have collaborated on the document which includes information about how Bermudians can participate in the process.

Minister of Environment and Planning, Sylvan Richards Richards, indicated in June his intention to release the document stating: “The Government is seeking to discover the views of the wider community on the proposal to establish amarine reserve in our Exclusive Economic Zone, or EEZ.”  

Bermuda’s EEZ is a circle with a 200 mile radius covering about 465,000 square kilometres of ocean.

Minister Richards said: “Many people have an interest and a view and some have chosen to express their views and share them with the public. Some have even suggested a name and size for a protected area within our EEZ.  Despite the strong interest shown to date by local and international organizations, this consultation process is open to all of Bermuda’s residents and the Ministry is particularly interested in hearing from our younger generations as they will likely inherit the responsibility for the decision that will be made. 

“This government values the input of Bermudians and given the significance of this matter, particularly as it relates to our long-term sustainability, our full due diligence is required. Additionally, it is expected that overseas stakeholders will participate and respond to the invitation to share their views. This Government wishes to ensure that all are given an opportunity to be heard before a decision is taken.

 “We are not entering this process with a pre-determined outcome in mind. Rather, the public is being asked to select one of five options to the question ‘Do you think a marine reserve should be established in the offshore waters of Bermuda’s Exclusive Economic Zone?’. Respondents are encouraged to support their position, and that support willform a critical part of the overall evaluation.”

Aseries of radio, television and print commercials, along with public meetings, aim to serve to educate the public and encourage all to be a part of this decision. The consultation document, as well as a two page summary, will be made available at the office of the Sustainable Development Department (31 Reid Street, Hamilton HM 12), at other key Government locations including the library and a number of post offices, and online at www.sdbermuda.bm.

All responses must be returned to the Sustainable Development Department by October 31, 2013.