About three-quarters of Bermudians support the establishment of a fully protected marine reserve in the island's waters, according to a recent poll commissioned by Avaaz, an international campaign organization.
Seventy-six percent of those surveyed answered “yes” when asked whether they “support the Bermuda Government establishing the Blue Halo, a fully protected marine reserve in our waters.” The responses indicated overwhelming support across all key demographic groups on the island.
The question was preceded by a description of the proposed Blue Halo as a fully protected marine reserve that would begin 50 miles from shore and extend to 200 miles. The statement said the reserve would protect ocean life; have a minimal impact on current local fishing because most fishing occurs inside the 50-mile mark; serve as a deterrent to illegal foreign fishing fleets; and strengthen Bermuda's conservation brand and tourism economy.
The poll was conducted by Global Research from March 31 to April 5 and included 419 respondents. The results were weighted to be representative of Bermuda's population regarding age, gender, race, and education.
The survey findings come as environmental groups in Bermuda are calling on the government to make public the full results of a consultation held on the island in October.
That government-coordinated effort gave residents an opportunity to comment on whether they would like a marine reserve in their waters and, if so, how large they thought it should be.
“Given such broad support on the island, the supporters of the Blue Halo marine reserve believe there is no reason why the results should not have been released yet, almost six months after the comprehensive public consultation exercise across the country,” said Chris Flook, who represents The Pew Charitable Trusts in Bermuda.
Lisa Vickers, an Avaaz campaigner on the island, said: “Our oceans are in serious trouble due to a myriad of threats, including overfishing and pollution. Ocean sanctuaries like the proposed Blue Halo are a vital defense shield against ecological collapse, and we know they make sense for sustainable fisheries. Creating the largest marine reserve in the Atlantic is a chance for Bermuda to shine as a world leader in conservation and protect our amazing sea life for generations to come.”
Avaaz recently issued an action alert asking supporters of the Blue Halo to make their voices heard in the public consultation process.