In 2019, BIOS joined efforts with the Government of Bermuda and the Waitt Institute to form the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme (BOPP). This innovative partnership was designed to leverage the partners’ various planning, legal, advocacy, strategy, and scientific expertise to protect 50,000 square miles (90,000 square kilometers) within Bermuda’s marine protected areas to preserve marine biodiversity and ensure economic resilience for the island’s ocean economy.
BOPP has reached the two-year mark this June, just in time for World Ocean’s Day. BOPP was founded with the ambitious goals to grow the blue economy and support Bermudian livelihoods by fostering the sustainable, profitable, and enjoyable use of ocean resources for present and future generations.
Thanks to the efforts of policy makers, volunteers, fishers, scientists, lawyers, communicators, artists, tourism experts, industry representatives, and many others, BOPP continues to strive for its goals of an inclusive and comprehensive marine planning process to support Bermuda’s social, environmental, and economic goals for years to come.
BOPP Two Years In
A Strong Bermudian Team
- The Honorable Walter H. Roban, JP MP, Minister of Home Affairs, as well as the Honorable M. Rozy Azhar, Permanent Secretary of Home Affairs, share their leadership and vision to guide BOPP through its complex processes.
- The Programme hired three full time staff to guide initiatives forward with Bermudian expertise: Cheryl Mapp, site coordinator, Weldon Wade, communications coordinator, and Sarah Brooks, marine spatial planning specialist.
- Additional support came from the help of Jirani Welch, Amber Mapp, government scientists, and dedicated support from Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley, adjunct faculty member at BIOS and science-committee lead, who helped connect the dots between fishers, researchers, and government through hours of work.
- In addition to the founding partners, full time staff, volunteers, and the government representatives that lead the administrative working group, BOPP is led by a diverse Steering Committee, made up of 15 different Departments, Agencies, and Organizations. This Committee, with support from the Science Sub-committee and others, recently completed the creation of founding Principals, Goals, and Objectives that will lead decisions going forward.
- The key to a comprehensive and successful positive change is knowing what the needs are in the communities most effected by marine resources. To that end, BOPP brought together representatives and experts from eight key marine stakeholder groups: Commercial Fishing; Recreational Fishing; Passive Recreation and Conservation; Diving, Snorkeling, and Swimming; Tourism, Boating, and Sports; Utilities, Infrastructure, and Development; Aquaculture (Mariculture); Wastewater and Pollution Management.
- Almost 70 Ocean Village participants dedicated a cumulative 70 hours of discussion during the four-month comment period to the draft principles, goals, and objectives, as well as dedicating many more hours to the distribution and facilitation of the Ocean Use Surveys.
How Bermudians Use and Enjoy the Ocean
- In addition to ecological, economic, industrial, and planning data, BOPP needs to know how people use the ocean space to build a plan that helps reduce user conflicts, increases resilience to outside changes, and finds commonalities to bolster development.
- BOPP deployed the Ocean Use Survey tools and gathered 1,488 surveys collected from people across the island.
- This was in major part due to the more than 30 volunteers and facilitators who reached out to community members to capture their input and feedback.
Best Available Data
- In partnership with BIOS and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the BOPP science Sub-committee and others compiled data on ecological health, species diversity, bathymetry of the platform and seamounts, and other data sets to work with the most comprehensive understanding of Bermuda’s marine environment.
- BOPP has worked closely with organizations both on and off island, supporting the work of Nonsuch Expeditions, partnering with BIOS in its efforts to better understand the deep ocean, and engaging closely with Bermudian businesses to best understand their needs.
- The BOPP team, in collaboration with local industry experts and economic consultants, conducted research to explore recommended activities and areas of investment for three local industries: Fisheries, Ocean Renewable Energy, and Blue Tourism. These recommendations will be reviewed by Government leadership and industry experts to continue planning for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and increased jobs for Bermudians while maintaining the health of ocean ecosystems.
BOPP around the Globe
- BOPP launched its website (bermudaoceanprosperity.org) to compile news, information, and avenues of engagement for all Bermudians and residents. To remain safe during the COVID19 pandemic, the team put together a Virtual Launch to introduce the goals, team, and process to the Bermudian public.
- BOPP representatives have presented their work and BOPP progress around the world, such as at the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute Conference, the All-Atlantic Conference, the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum, and the Island Innovation Virtual Island Summit, with one of the most watched panels of the whole event.
BOPP recently won a Best of Bermuda award from The Bermudian magazine thanks to the dedication and passion of this team. Stay tuned for the continued results, engagement, and support from everyone on the BOPP team.