Oceanographer Sylvia Earle. *Photo supplied
Oceanographer Sylvia Earle. *Photo supplied

TUESDAY, MAY 29: World-renowned oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle is to give a lecture about Bermuda’s potential leadership in marine conservation.

Her talk will cover Bermuda’s role in conserving the Sargasso Sea with reference to the Blue Halo Project being led by the Pew Environment Group in Bermuda in partnership with the Bermuda Government.

Hosted by the Young President’s Organization, her talk will be held at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute at Thursday’s invite-only TEDx Bermuda youth programme.

The initiative proposes the designation of a marine reserve within Bermuda’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The “donut-shaped” marine reserve would extend from an area well beyond the Argus and Challenger Banks, out to the 200-mile boundary of the EEZ.  

Dr Earle will speak alongside Dr Richard Rockefeller, chairman of the Board of Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Executive Committee of the Sargasso Sea Alliance and Jay Nelson, director of the Pew Environment Group’s Global Ocean Legacy project, which includes the Bermuda Blue Halo initiative.

The primary topic is Bermuda’s opportunity to designate the largest no-take marine reserve in the Atlantic Ocean. Information will be shared about the benefits of the Bermuda Blue Halo initiative, such as safekeeping the island’s fish stocks, protecting the livelihoods of local fishermen, and branding Bermuda as a global ecotourism destination.  

Before the evening lecture, organizers will hold an educational programme for local middle and high-school students about Bermuda’s marine life and conservation.

Organized by TEDx Bermuda, the youth event will be held at BUEI from 3:30pm to 5:30pm and is open to students ages 12 to 18.

The programme will also feature Andrew Stevenson and his video on Bermuda’s whale life, Neil Burnie and the local shark tracking project, as well as marine life videos, followed by presentations by Dr Earle, Dr Richard Rockefeller, Jay Nelson, and Chris Flook, a Bermudian and Director of the Bermuda Blue Halo initiative.

A series of competitions will be presented to the students to encourage participation in and greater awareness of the Blue Halo initiative.

“This truly is a unique opportunity for Bermuda,” said Mr Flook. “The island’s waters are a vital haven for marine life such as sharks, whales, and sea turtles.  

“As Bermudians, we have a stake in protecting our marine environment, and the Blue Halo initiative is a way to celebrate and protect it for generations to come.”

The events offer a platform for a broader public dialogue about Bermuda’s role in protecting the larger Sargasso Sea as well as conserving its own waters and marine life.  

The initiative is urging the government, which is on record in support of the Blue Halo project, to establish a marine reserve by late 2012 or early 2013. During the next few months, the initiative will conduct an educational outreach campaign, which will be followed by a government public consultation on the Blue Halo proposal.

Stuart Lacey, the organizer of the event and the education chair of the Young Presidents’ Organization, commented that “YPO, as a local and international organization, is committed to give back to Bermuda” and that “this landmark project [the Bermuda Blue Halo initiative] offers the country and its residents the opportunity to join together to secure their own futures and at the same time support a new tourism brand built on the ethos of global leadership, sustainability, and awareness.”

For more information about the evening lecture on May 31, contact Leanne Hinton with the Bermuda Blue Halo initiative at leeannehinton@pewbermuda.org or 296-1456.