BIOS Faculty Contribute to Government Report on the State of Bermuda’s Marine Waters

“The State of Bermuda’s Waters: A Snapshot of Bermuda’s Exclusive Economic Zone from the Coastline to 200 nm” is a new report released by the Government of Bermuda. It highlights the status, uses, threats, and governance of the island’s marine environments and underwater cultural heritage, such as shipwrecks, in Bermuda’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). BIOS scientists contributed scientific knowledge and data sets to the report, which will be used to help inform future marine planning processes.

In early February, the Government of Bermuda released a public report titled “The State of Bermuda’s Marine Waters: A Snapshot of Bermuda’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from the Coastline to 200 nautical miles (nm).” It was released as part of the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme (BOPP), a partnership between the Government of Bermuda, the Waitt Institute, and BIOS designed to sustainably protect and manage the island’s ocean resources. BOPP is also working with the Government and local industries, such as tourism and fisheries, to diversify national revenue and support the development of a “blue economy” that balances the sustainable use of ocean resources with marine ecosystem health.

This comprehensive document, developed over 14 months in cooperation with 25 of the island’s scientists, industry experts, and resource managers, is designed to help identify priorities for Bermuda’s future development and use of marine resources.

BIOS senior scientist and director of research Nick Bates contributed to Chapter 3 of the report, which focused on climate change and its impacts on the marine environment. Bates summarized research he conducted with BIOS colleague and assistant scientist Rod Johnson at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site over the last four decades. Data collected from the BATS site, located nearly 50 miles (80 kilometers) off Bermuda, demonstrates an increase in ocean temperature, salinity, and carbon dioxide, along with a decrease in dissolved oxygen—which, comprehensively, can have profound implications for marine life.

“The report provides critically-needed information for Bermudians to guide and plan for the future of the island’s marine environment,” Bates said.

The report was developed over a period of 14 months with the input of 25 of the island’s scientists, industry experts, and resource managers. The overarching goal of the report is to look at the physical status, economic context, and social influences that impact Bermuda’s EEZ.

BIOS senior scientist Eric Hochberg contributed four reports and data sets on coral cover, spanning fifteen years from 2004 through 2019, to the section in Chapter 1 on coral reef studies and surveys. These repeat data sets, such as the time-series at BATS, serve as important mechanisms by which scientists and managers can quantify environmental and ecological change over time.

The report also serves as an important baseline for future decisions impacting Bermuda’s marine environment. It highlights the need for an integrated planning approach that leverages and coordinates existing capacity while anticipating and preparing for future needs. Such an integrated planning approach will help Bermuda grow its blue economy, including enhanced job opportunities and development of critical infrastructure, for existing and future generations.

Bermuda’s EEZ— the region extending from the island’s coastline out to 200 nm (230 miles or 370 kilometers)—is biologically rich, contains priceless marine cultural heritage (such as shipwrecks), provides food and economic opportunities for Bermudians, and supports diverse tourism and recreational activities. The overarching goal of this report is to look at the physical status, economic context, and social influences that impact Bermuda’s EEZ.

"Both Bermuda's marine environment and economy will greatly benefit from capitalizing on the opportunities available within our EEZ," said Andrew Petit, director of the Bermuda Government Department of Environment and Natural Resources. "This report will provide the necessary context to inform those opportunities and make them a reality."