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Book highlights Bermuda’s coral reefs

Royal Gazette

By Owain Johnston-Barnes
Published Oct 10, 2013 at 12:15 pm (Updated Oct 10, 2013 at 7:57 pm)

RG_131010_1a.jpeg
Dr Jan Locke, with the Marine Conservation Section of the Department of Conservation Services,
Environment Minister Sylvan Richards and curator of the National History Museum at BAMZ Dr Robbie Smith
show off the book, Coral Reefs of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories. The edition highlights Bermuda as
one of eight UK territories with an extensive reef system.
 
(Photo by Mark Tatem)

Bermuda’s coral reefs have been highlighted in a recently published book series detailing reef systems around the world.

‘Coral Reefs of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories’ is the fourth in the ‘Coral Reefs of the World’ series, authored by international scientists.

The edition highlights Bermuda as one of eight UK territories with an extensive reef system, describing the geography, oceanography and biodiversity over the course of several chapters.

According to the book, the reef also has an enormous economic value as a tourist attraction, a barrier preventing erosion and as a commercial and recreational fishing area. It estimates the total economic value of the reef as being between $488 million to $1.1 billion per year.

It also lists several potential threats to the Island’s reefs, including coral bleaching, coral diseases, and global climate change.

A section of the book reads: “Great uncertainty exists with respect to the capacity of Bermuda’s slow growing corals to cope with rising sea level and ocean acidification and that the reef system will deliver the valuable ecosystem services and essential economic benefits into the next century.”

Environment Minister Sylvan Richards noted the efforts of the Department of Conservation Services, which spearheaded Bermuda’s contribution.

The department was assisted by a number of scientists from the Department of Environmental Protection, the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, the Bermuda Zoological Society and collaborators from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, the UK and Venezuela.

Mr Richards said: “Not only does this book bring Bermuda’s coral reefs to a global audience, the information contained in it will be a key reference for our schoolchildren in the study of our reefs, emphasising the significant role coral reefs play in Bermuda’s past, present and future, and therein, the importance of protecting them.

“We Bermudians have a strong tradition of stewardship of our reefs, a tradition that this government intends to continue.”

Mr Richards said the Bermuda Government continues to hold a leadership role in the Sargasso Sea Alliance, whose executive committee was recently awarded the 2013 SeaKeeper award for their work in marine conservation.

The Minister also noted the ongoing public consultation process for a proposed offshore marine reserve in Bermuda’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), saying the Government wants to ensure that all members of the public have the opportunity to have their voices heard.

“We have much to gain by working together to determine how best to balance the use and conservation of the valuable fishes and minerals in our EEZ,” he said. “But there must be a sustainable solution that protects the integrity of the oceanic food webs and the diversity of life in the deep ocean.”

The book is currently available at the Department of Conservation Services’ Public Library at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, and can be purchased online at www.springer.com.