The porpita is one of many species that can be found in the Sargassum Sea. *Photo by Chris Burville
The porpita is one of many species that can be found in the Sargassum Sea. *Photo by Chris Burville

FRIDAY, JUNE 1: Bermuda’s chance to lead the way in marine conservation is one of several topics up for discussion at the World Oceans Day event next Friday.

Director of Global Ocean Legacy Bermuda for the Pew Environment Group, Chris Flook, will be discussing the proposed Bermuda Blue Halo project which aims to create the biggest marine reserve in the Atlantic Ocean without affecting local fishermen.

Mr Flook will speak alongside three other marine experts — Tim Noyes, research specialist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, Tammy Trott, Senior Marine Resource Officer for the Department of Environmental Protection and Philippe Rouja Custodian of Historic Wrecks for the Department of Conservation Services.

Mr Flook will talk about the Bermuda Government’s proposed creation of a marine reserve with the support of Pew.It would encompass much of Bermuda’s Exclusive Economic Zone within the Sargasso Sea with a view to protecting our waters from foreign vessels fishing here illegally.

The Blue Halo reserve would see a 200-mile band of water, beyond 50 miles of the island, preserved.

Mr Flook believes that such a marine reserve would demonstrate Bermuda’s commitment to addressing overfishing globally and set a precedent for others to follow.

“Bermuda is throwing the gauntlet down and committing the rest to step up. It makes sense because we have such long history of environmental awareness here. “There is really no cost to us except more fish in the long-term. We are taking a bit of our Exclusive Economic Zone that we don’t use now and putting it in the safety deposit box. It has been scientifically proven that numbers of fish increase in marine reserves and fish tend to be bigger in those reserves and the spill off effect in areas next to those reserves is massive.”

The Bermuda government is currently on the verge of initiating a public consultation to determine the size of such a reserve.

It is hoped that after the Blue Halo marine reserve is created, the reserve could be extended to cover a massive stretch of the Sargasso Sea making it the biggest high sea marine reserve in the world. The Sargasso Sea stretches over an area about half the size of the United States. It is home to great swathes of Sargasso Seaweed which acts as nursery grounds for more than 100 species of fish and 145 types if invertebrates. For more information on the Blue Halo Project visit: www.bermudabluehalo.org.

At the World Oceans Day event there will also be a number of educational booths including a sea turtle display by the Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo, a display of marine debris by Keep Bermuda Beautiful, a lionfish display by the Ocean Support Foundation as well as the videos from the Bermuda National Trust’s student video competition covering environmental subjects.

It takes place on June 8 between 5:30pm and 7:30pm at the HSBC Harbourview Centre. Tickets are $20. Call 297-1880 or e-mail: vanessa.shorto@bios.edu