The Bermuda Blue Halo scheme proposes turning much of the sea within a 200-mile radius of the Island — covering an area the size of the British Isles and encompassing about 180,000 square miles of ocean — into a “no take” zone, severely limiting all activity there. In order to protect the habitat and species within, marine reserves are typically no-take areas where there is limited human interaction. This allows overfished and overused areas to revert back to their naturally pristine state. There is scientific proof that in marine reserves fish stocks increase, the fish tend to grow larger and there is a “spill over” effect into areas outside of the reserve. With this in mind, the reserve around Bermuda will have an inner and outer ring. In the inner ring (the area that is closest to Bermuda), current activities will not change. The idea is not to impede Bermudians who earn their livelihood through marine activities (both commercial and recreational). The outer ring, however, will encompass the reserve. Government said on April 10 that the results of the public consultation on Blue Halo were still being reviewed and would go before Cabinet soon.
Bermuda—the oldest and most populous of Britain’s Overseas Territories—is located in the North Atlantic Ocean, almost 1,000 kilometers (700 miles) from the East Coast of the United States. Its islands are made up of limestone formations that sit on the largest of three volcanic seamounts formed more than 110 million years ago. Globally important seagrass meadows, coral reefs, mangrove swamps, diverse marine life, and an extensive network of underwater caves are found here.
Bermuda and its surrounding waters lie within the Sargasso Sea, an enormous mass of water that is driven in a clockwise direction by strong ocean currents. Floating on its surface are large mats of unique seaweed known as Sargassum, which support a unique variety of marine life. Scientists have documented that eel species from European and North American rivers migrate here to spawn. Their young then make their way back to live in these rivers. The Sargasso Sea also plays an important role in the life cycle of the porbeagle shark, which is considered “vulnerable” by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Recent research has found that the Sargasso Sea serves as critical birthing grounds for the shark species. Given this highly productive ecosystem, scientists, Bermudians and others are concerned about protecting this area from emerging threats, such as proposals to harvest Sargassum for biofuel.
Marine Conservation Institute and the Waitt Foundation provide this
interactive tool to help users visualize the locations and coverage of global
marine protected areas (MPA). This atlas provides information on over 8000 MPAs
globally, drawing on datasets from the
World Database on Protected Areas1,
US MPA Center2,
and other country- and regional-level data authorities, as well as research
conducted by the Marine Conservation Institute.
In addition to MPA boundaries and site management information, this dataset
contains information on conservation measures with a particular focus on those
restricting the exploitation of marine life.
Features on this site are designed to allow users to understand (1) where current
protection exists and at what level, and (2), where important areas for future protection
are and any processes underway to establish MPAs. This provides vital information to
countries and their citizens interested in ocean conservation, management and stewardship.
The dataset is constantly being updated and we welcome visitors to the site to provide
feedback and update content by creating a member account on MPAtlas today.