Today, 5 June, the Ministry of Home Affairs celebrates World Environment Day 2019 and will celebrate World Ocean Day on 8 June, 2019.
The Ministry is deeply aware of the need for change to minimise the impact of challenges such as plastic pollution in our oceans, issues associated with climate change, loss of biodiversity due to human impacts, over fishing, and the general depletion of the world’s resources.
In 1974 the world celebrated its first World Environment day with the theme “Only One Earth”. With this in mind, the Government isroy committed to raising awareness of the need to take care of our planet and to take action to protect our island home.
The Minister of Home Affairs, the Hon. Walter Roban commented, “Preserving our islands beauty and resources is a very personal matter to me. The Ministry of Home Affairs has undertaken a wide range of initiatives to preserve our island home, its unique natural biodiversity and show case what can and should be done to minimise human impact on our planet. Later today, I am pleased that we will be unveiling yet another initiative, the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme, that aims to address ocean preservation that will preserve our ocean resources and strengthen our economy.”
In light of both World Environment Day and the upcoming World Ocean Day – the Ministry would like to take this opportunity to highlight actions being taken to specifically address some of the challenges our environment faces.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has implemented the following strategies, programmes and initiatives:
· Reducing energy consumption through the LED exchange initiative. Currently, participating retailers are accepting one incandescent bulb in exchange for a more energy efficient LED bulb. This initiative not only saves consumers money in energy costs but is also a means in which the public can reduce overall energy consumption.
· Conserving and protecting the island’s natural resources through the sustainable Bermuda Plan 2019. The Draft Bermuda Plan encompasses three strategies; : a Conservation Strategy, Development Strategy and a Community Strategy. As a general aim, the Plan places a greater emphasis on the need to encourage local food production, incorporate green infrastructure, improve the walkability of neighbourhoods and build community understanding and resilience to the local impacts of climate change.
· Better protection for Endangered Plants and Animals. The Ministry of Home Affairs is currently working to amend the Endangered Plants and Animals Act 2006 to create a more robust regulatory framework to reinforce its commitment to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
· Goals to eliminate single-use plastics. Using a phased approach, the Government has committed to eliminate single-use plastics by 2022 and the intervening years will be spent educating the community about recycling and reusable items, and encouraging greater sensitivity to the ocean and its importance to our lives. By 2020, a charge on single-use plastics will be instituted as we move to the point of elimination.
· Invasive Species: Bermuda is currently vulnerable to the introduction and proliferation of new alien invasive species (AIS) of animals and plants that could have a dramatic impact on the island’s environment, economy, human health and social fabric. The Government is addressing this by developing new legislation to prevent the introduction of new AIS to Bermuda and means to reduce the risk of their establishment and proliferation in order to safeguard the island’s unique natural environment and human health but also important industries such as agriculture, fisheries and tourism.
· Encouraging aquaculture. Aquaculture refers to the farming of salt water and freshwater organisms like finfish, crustaceans, molluscs. Recognising the continual interest in the production of farmed fresh water/brackish water fish on land, Bermuda is developing a robust regulatory regime that can capitalize on this interest and ensure the production of high quality products with minimal detrimental impact on the island’s sensitive environments.
· Developing an integrated Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme. More information regarding this brand new marine preservation programme and partnership will be announced at 1:30 pm this afternoon.