As one of the world’s most isolated Islands the ocean is deep in our psyche. The Sargasso Sea Alliance and the Bermuda Blue Halo project are both seeking to establish a greater degree of protection for ocean around our Island home. We can do this from a position of strength: The ocean is our heritage and the source of a great deal of our recreation, while our fishing industry treads very lightly on our marine resources. We are therefore able to conserve and protect this invaluable global resource with no negative, in fact with the potential for a significant positive impact on our economy our enjoyment and global science.

Bermuda has in fact long been a leader in marine conservation (and here I would like to thank Jack Ward for the details that follow). Bermuda initiated its first marine protection measure in 1620 to protect small turtles, and has continued to extend protection ever since. Netting in inshore waters was banned in the 1700s, fish pots were first banned in 1790, and then once again in 1990. Bermuda was one of the first to ban the take of marine organism with SCUBA gear (1972), trawls (1972) and spearguns (1972). Coral preserves were established in the 1960s, sea turtles protected in 1978, and fishing licences limited in the 1980s. Bermuda has a long tradition of protection to build on and as a result we have a great heritage to celebrate on Friday and every day.

While I am on the topic of water, another wonderful cultural tradition that we should celebrate is our collection of rainwater for drinking. This tradition has allowed us not only to tread lightly on our fragile Island environment by catching our own drinking water, but also, with some basic precautions, gives us some of healthiest drinking water in the world. This makes it a tragedy that we are slowly moving away from this wonderful tradition.

Drinking water has been on all of our agendas this year as the rainfall to date for the year is still 8.5 inches short of our average. I applaud the Sustainable Development Department for holding the “Community Conversation on Water”, but we learned there that we do not collect enough water off our roofs for our use and the average household in Bermuda buys 6-8 loads of water a year.

Along with the discussion of how much drinking water can we continue to draw from our water lens, or generate through reverse osmosis, I would have liked to hear more discussion of what we can do to live within our water ‘footprint’.

Water conservation can be as simple as turning the tap off when we brush our teeth, or as advanced as fitting the house with grey-water recycling systems; but when the tanks run low we should be looking at our own behaviour and choices, not at our wallets.

The planet so far has not responded well to the modern philosophy of “if I run out I can just buy more”. Our Island and the resources we have available are unique; therefore when the tanks are low and fresh water is scarce let us return to our heritage and think of ways to conserve, rather than follow the rest of the world and just pay for more water.

So this month let’s protect our water both the fresh water we catch on our roofs and use every day, and the ocean that we play in, swim in and enjoy every day and that millions of irreplaceable marine organisms call home.


The World Ocean’s Day celebration will run from 5.30 to 7.30 on Friday evening. The theme for the presentations will be ocean science, management and advocacy, and the theme for the evening will be to celebrate our ocean. Tickets are available from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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