Contributing to the discussion on what to do with Bermuda’s Exclusive Economic Zone is vital to the future of the island, according to the head of the Sustainable Development Department.

Director Charles Brown described the ongoing consultation concerning the waters around Bermuda as ‘legacy work’.

And he called on islanders to strengthen their understanding of Bermuda’s marine resources and the options open to Bermuda in order to secure the most sustainable plan moving forward.

Mr Brown told the Bermuda Sun that there was a misconception that a decision over the EEZ had already been made, and insisted that a marine reserve was just one of a host of ideas that would be looked at.

He said: “The EEZ is undervalued because it does not necessarily resonate with many people.

“It’s not a part of our curriculum. 

“When we think of sea, we think of fishing, when there is so much more to consider.

“The priority in front of people at this time tends to focus on economic standing, public safety and to some extent healthcare — these are the day-to-day challenges of life.

“The Exclusive Economic Zone does not necessarily raise to the level of importance for some of us.”

The consultation period when islanders and stakeholders have been asked for their feedback on what to do with the EEZ began over a month ago and will continue until the end of October.

Afterward the Sustainable Development team will meet with other key stakeholders such as Blue Halo before presenting a draft plan to Environment Minister Sylvan Richards in the early part of 2014.

Mr Brown says the public response has been good so far, although the department’s limited resources have been a challenge.

He added: “This is legacy work and an unprecedented opportunity for a small isolated jurisdiction to define what is right for our future.

“Putting it on paper is the easy part – the significant test will come when the time comes to manage the implementation.

“Our focus is to enable a process of information sharing and community participation to help shape the future policy.”

“People should be interested in this because we find ourselves in a situation were  we are examining and looking and trying to identify employment and revenue generating opportunities.” 

For more information about the EEZ visit www.sdbermuda.bm