Satellite surveillance worth $2m per year is being offered to for
free by a company called Catapult which is in its testing phase. *Photo supplied
Satellite surveillance worth $2m per year is being offered to for free by a company called Catapult which is in its testing phase. *Photo supplied

One of the big questions on everyone’s minds is how can such a vast marine reserve be enforced and how much is it going to cost Bermudians.

There is a discrepancy between what the Pew Charitable Trust says it will cost and what the Government of Bermuda says it will cost.

The government-appointed Sustainable Development consultation document estimates a $300,000 one off start-up cost of management and enforcement and a total of $295,163 annually thereafter.

But Pew’s estimation is much higher with an $800,000 start up cost. Mr Ward said: “The Bermuda government says it will re-task civil servants.

“My question is, are they not working right now that you can simply re-task them?” According to Mr Flook, there is an offer on the table for free satellite monitoring of Bermuda’s waters, if Bermuda get this reserve together in good time.

The company  - Catapult - wants to test its AIS and satellite gear in an operation that would have cost us up to $2m a year to operate.

Mr Flook explains: “Catapult is doing AIS and satellite surveillance and they want to test the system in Bermuda and it wont costs us anything to run it. But it goes back to if we turn the satellites on we can see boats but we don’t have the recourse to be able to deal with them so its that chicken and egg situation. I would like to get the legislation sorted out before they went on if we did have a free service.”

Catapult would be just one of many solutions to a very big problem. Aside from existing passing traffic such as cruise ships and cargo ships to help monitor the reserve, Mr Flook believes the military has a specific interest also.

He said: “Today, where battles and wars around the world are fought from computer screens on the other side of the planet, the Navies are really trying to justify their existence. All of them are focusing on the human trafficking and drugs but IUU (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated) fishing is the big one.

“Illegal fishing is the biggest threat to the sustainability of the planet they are focusing on that. There is a private company here that is looking at starting up drone stuff to look at enforcement as well.”

He added: “Pew has been very diligent in trying to get commitment from outside bodies to help with enforcement. That will trail into whether or not the Sargasso Sea gets any protection because Bermuda’s going to be the home base for the science and enforcement fleet. It’s not going to be one single thing its going to take a combination of these technologies.”


Marine reserve: Q&A

Does a reserve amount to ‘commercial suicide’?

What if opportunity knocks?

Why don’t we just use current legislation to fine illegal fishing operations?

Could a marine reserve attract an influx of eco-tourists and marine scientists?

What are the marine reserve choices?

Do marine reserves help the environment?