Pelagic fish like tuna pass through the Sargasso Sea. *Photo by Chris Burville
Pelagic fish like tuna pass through the Sargasso Sea. *Photo by Chris Burville

So what happens, if a few years down the line, we discover that Bermuda is a hot spot for seabed mining, or that foreign fishing vessels are willing to pay for Bermuda’s prohibitively expensive foreign longline fishing licenses? 

Are we stuck with a marine reserve and therefore left having to turn down lucrative business opportunities?

Not so says Mr Flook — the legislation can be changed. 

“One of the big misconceptions people have about the Blue Halo is that it is a sovereignty issue. It is not, it is a management and enforcement tool similar to the no fishing zones we have around shipwrecks. 

Assertion of sovereignty

“It is a complete assertion of sovereignty — by making this marine reserve what we are saying is, we are not using it now, we are going to lock it off and hopefully it’s going to be in as good shape or better should a viable business opportunity come down the road. 

“Very much like Nonsuch Island, if someone tripped over gold and diamonds and if, economically, it outweighs the environmental benefits, it’s going to be dug up.  

“Same thing if a Marriott Group of Companies came along and said we’ll give you $500m for Nonsuch Island. 

“With the legislation, it makes sense to assess it every five or ten years to whatever degree because human needs change, technology changes, the environment changes.” 

Chris Flook is marine consultant for the Pew Charitable Trust, an advocacy group invited by the Government of Bermuda to help facilitate a consultation process involved in creating a no take marine reserve in Bermuda’s EEZ.
• Jack Ward, is the former director for Conservation Services (2002 to 2009) and acts as chair for the science and policy division of the Bermuda Alliance for Sargasso Sea.

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?
How can we enforce such a huge area?