The Sargasso Sea and Bermuda's important role in conserving this unique marine environment—especially the area within its waters—will be the subject of a lecture this week by world-renowned oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle. Dr. Earle will speak at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI) on Thursday, May 31.
Hosted by the Bermuda Young Presidents' Organization, the evening lecture is made possible by the Pew Environment Group, which is leading the Bermuda Blue Halo initiative in partnership with the island's Government. The initiative proposes the designation of a globally significant marine reserve within Bermuda's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). This “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.
In addition to Dr. Earle, speakers at the invitation-only event include Dr. Richard Rockefeller, chairman of the Board of Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the 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.
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.Chris Flook, Bermuda Blue Halo initiative
Before the evening lecture, organisers will hold an educational programme for local middle and high school students about Bermuda's marine life and conservation. Organised by TEDx Bermuda, the youth event will be held at BUEI from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and is open to students ages 12 to 18. The programme will 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. 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,” Flook said.
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, 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 organiser of the event and the education chair of the Young Presidents' Organization, commented that “YPO as a local and international organisation 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.”