*Photo by Chris Burville
*Photo by Chris Burville

Yet another option was presented as an alternative to the no take marine reserve being explored by the Government of Bermuda and the Pew Charitable Trust. 

At a panel discussion about Bermuda’s Exclusive Economic Zone at City Hall on Monday night, President of the Zoological Society Richard Winchell outlined a multi-use system he described as the Self Administered Marine Protected Area (SAMPA).

His proposal suggested a balance between conservation and commercial freedom, a system that a full, no take marine reserve could restrict to some extent.

“With SAMPA we take full responsibility for the sustainable management of our EEZ. We would manage it as we have managed our reef platform... Mixed use — tourism, research, education, fishing and exploration. 

“It allows for fishing and it will allow us to go out and explore.”

Other panellists were Tammy Trott, senior resources officer for the Marine Resources Section of the Department of Environmental Protection, who discussed a similar multi-use sustem; Chris Flook, marine consultant for the Pew Charitable Trust, who advocates for a full, no take marine reserve; and Nick Hutchins, organizer of the Ocean Projects, who is interested in deep seabed mining. 

The Bermuda Sun ran a detailed report about the other options discussed in Friday’s edition.

At the end of the two and a half hour discussion, the audience was asked if they felt informed enough to make a decision on the marine reserve to which the response was a resounding “no”.

Over 1,100 people saw the debate either at City Hall or online. There have been private meetings with selected groups and some advertising while the public consultation document has been available online for some time. But this was the first open public debate.

The public consultation deadline is tomorrow.

Charles Brown of the Sustainable Development Department, employed by government to facilitate the consultation, told the Bermuda Sun: “Government could decide that based on the data, they wish to consider more information and extend the process. Or Government could decide to make a decision based on the data before them.”