Start Fishing for the “Facts” says Senator Lindsay Simmons

Your Government believes it is essential to not only lay out the facts after the recent press conference held by the Fisherman’s Association of Bermuda. We also want to assure the public that, as your Government, we remain committed to listening to, respecting, and working in collaboration with all of Bermuda’s stakeholders Bermuda’s Exclusive Economic Zone is critical to the environmental and economic prosperity of Bermuda.


The United Kingdom has set an ambitious policy target to protect 30% of its marine environment by 2030. This is an international obligation made by the UK, and many other countries under existing international conventions. To meet this target, the U.K. initiated the Blue Belt programme for the U.K. and its overseas territories (2018).


Based on its colonial status, Bermuda remains subject to the decisions, directives, and whims of the British Government. If, as a country, we do not assert our rights and our own vision within the confines of global requirements, we will be forced to submit to the decisions of politicians thousands of miles away from our shores.


Our vision is very clear, “protecting the livelihood of our local fishermen while ensuring a healthy ocean
in the future.”  We have engaged with the fishing industry throughout the stakeholder process since the program began in 2019. The representatives from commercial and recreational fisheries were directly involved in drafting the Blue Prosperity Plan.


While working within the framework imposed on us, we propose fishermen continue to fish in plus 80% of Bermuda’s waters. Some fishing efforts will shift to ensure the industry is sustainable long into the future, but we believe this will preserve their livelihoods and ensure that Bermudian seafood is still available to Bermudians from our fishermen, grocery stores, and restaurants.


In 2019, your Government began to develop the Blue Prosperity Program in partnership with the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science and the Waitt Institute. This Plan commits to sustainable economic development while enhancing and maximizing our marine resources by:

● Growing Bermuda’s ocean-related industries and attracting investment opportunities, and

● Implementing sustainable ocean development, protection, and management.

The public consultation process, which began early September 2022 originally conclude at the end of November, was extended to the end of December. It is being conducted by the BOPP Steering
Committee, which includes all stakeholders interested in Bermuda’s waters. Each entity has one representative, and members of the Commercial Fisheries Council and the Marine Resources Board are full participants on the Steering Committee.


BOPP has consulted widely and conducted extensive outreach. For the Ocean Use Survey alone, at least
six newspaper adverts and over 30 radio adverts were released, along with social media advertising and information dissemination through Government channels. Nearly 1,000 fliers were distributed, and two 3-hour pop-up events were held in public areas. Several organizations distributed the survey to their  mailing lists, and all Ocean Village stakeholder groups were encouraged to engage. In-person facilitation, outreach phone calls, and surveys were offered to over 200 members of our community. Considerable  effort was made to collect responses from Commercial Fishermen as part of the Ocean Use Survey. Also, over six weeks, at least one outreach attempt was made to each licensed commercial fishing vessel  owner.


Responses to the Ocean Use Survey were used to create heatmaps to visually represent locations in Bermuda’s waters considered most valuable to each sector. Our objective was to ensure continued
access to our waters’ most highly-valued fishing grounds.


The outreach, as mentioned above, represents just a small portion of the work being done on the Government’s end to ensure that every voice is heard and respected. The feedback shapes the final product; it will only reach its full potential if our fishermen continue participating in the process.


As your Government, we often must make tough decisions, and the most challenging part of our job is when we cannot give everyone what they want. That is why we strive so hard to give our people many opportunities and ways to participate in shaping the direction of our country. The Government knows it
will not always get things perfect, but our hearts are in the right place, and we are working tirelessly in the best interest of our country and our people.

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