Participants gather at the Pocantico Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to negotiate the Hamilton Declaration.
Credit: K. Morrison
From 23-24 November 2013, the Sargasso Sea Alliance convened a second technical preparatory meeting of governments to finalize the text of a political declaration which is planned to be signed by an inter-ministerial meeting in March 2014 (the Hamilton Declaration). The Hamilton Declaration on Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea will be a political agreement amongst the governments bordering the Sargasso Sea and the Range States of important species which spawn or migrate through the Sargasso Sea. The Declaration will seek to elaborate the ways in which these governments can voluntarily collaborate in such an effort. It also envisages the establishment of a Sargasso Sea Commission.
The meeting was co-chaired by Hon. Sylvan Richards, Jr., Minister of Environment and Planning (Government of Bermuda) and Dr. David Freestone, Executive Director, Sargasso Sea Alliance. Together with the representative from the European Commission, official representatives from the following governments attended: US, UK, Portugal, the Azores, the Bahamas, Belgium, Dominican Republic, the Netherlands and Monaco. The International Seabed Authority and the Canadian Senate participated in observer capacities.
Please note that as the Declaration is currently undergoing final official government review, a public version is not yet available for distribution.
UN General Assembly Oceans Resolution notes Alliance
The Sargasso Sea Alliance and Government of Bermuda are proud to be included for a second year in the 2013 UN General Assembly Annual Composite Resolution on the Oceans and Law of the Sea (see paragraph 215): “Takes note of the efforts of the Sargasso Sea Alliance, led by the
Government of Bermuda, to raise awareness of the ecological significance of the Sargasso Sea.”
This language was the result of a joint proposal from the US, UK and Bahamas and illustrates continued interest in Alliance efforts.
Focus on fisheries
In September the Commission of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization met and discussed a range of measures relating to the Sargasso Sea which had been proposed by its Scientific Council. These were referred to the NAFO Ecosystem Working Group for comments back at the next meeting, which is anticipated for December 2013.
Dr. Tammy Trott, Dr. Brian Luckhurst and Prof. Howard Roe participated in the November 2013 ICCAT Commission meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, as members of the UK Overseas Territories delegation.
Prof. Howard Roe, Dr. Tammy Trott and Dr. Brian Luckhurst at the ICCAT Commission meeting.
At the meeting, Dr. Josu Santiago, chair of the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS) reported on the Meetings of the Ecosystem Subcommittee in July and the full SCRS in October. He said that the ecosystem group “recognized that data provided for the Sargasso Sea offers a useful foundation for adopting the region as a basis for a case study.” He went on to say that the Ecosystem SC will continue collaboration with the SSA, which he regards as extremely useful, and that “the SCRS will continue to work with the SSA.”
Sargasso Android app banner at IMPAC3. Credit: D. Laffoley
Launched at IMPAC3, (the Third International Marine Protected Areas Conference), the Sargasso SeaAlliance app Conserving the Sargasso Sea is now available on Android. Version 1.0 is available free of charge for download onto any Android device. To download the app, visit the Google Play listing.
Kristina Gjerde, Chair of the Sargasso Sea Alliance Legal Work Group, gave a presentation in support of Dr. Sylvia Earle’s announcement of new Hope Spots at IMPAC3. “Sargasso Sea- a hope spot for the high seas”, featured an overview of the Alliance’s efforts to-date as an existing Hope Spot.
Dan Laffoley, Charlotte Vick, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Kristina Gjerde and Lance Morgan at IMPAC3.
Photo courtesy of Sylvia Earle.
The approach and preliminary results for the Sargasso Sea Economic Valuation Report were presented at two venues at IMPAC3. In a WWF-sponsored pre-conference side event on Environmental Valuation, a small group of conservation professionals worked with Florence Krowicki and Dr. Linwood Pendleton to examine the approach taken and brainstorm what types of valuation are most needed to advance the discussion of improved management in the Sargasso Sea.
The Sargasso Sea Valuation effort was also presented at a working session on Ecosystem Services. Both events led to a reconfirmation that the report should focus on key commercial aspects of marine species that depend on the Sargasso Sea. The discussions also raised the importance of considering the potential economic value of non-use values for charismatic species including whales, sharks, and the Sargassum anglerfish.
SSA Science Report series available online
We proudly announce the publication of the Sargasso Sea Alliance Science Report Series. The group of 12 reports were commissioned by the Alliance over the past two years in support of our Summary Science and Evidence Case and other documentation used in discussions at regional and international organizations.
Thank you to our editors Prof. Dan Laffoley and Prof. Howard Roe, Chair of the Sargasso Sea Alliance Senior Science Advisory Committee. Special thanks to all of the report authors and photographers, many of whom provided in-kind contributions.
Bermuda discusses protections in EEZ
On 19 October, the Royal Gazette published an opinion piece by Dr. David Freestone entitled “Leadership on marine conservation has to begin at home”. The piece was submitted during the public consultation period for consideration of a marine reserve in Bermuda’s EEZ. The consultation period has now closed. Please visit the Bermuda Government website for more information.