The announcement came as a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on June 5th by Bermuda’s Ministry of Home Affairs, the Waitt Institute, and Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), to establish the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme.

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Bermuda’s waters include the northernmost coral reef ecosystem in the world, and experience increasing pressures such as decreasing fish stocks, growing sea levels, a potential for seabed mining and expected increases in tropical storms.

The announcement comes in the wake of a United Nations report which warned of unprecedented rates of species extinction with 66% of the marine environment assessed as having been significantly affected by human actions.

Mounting scientific reports declare that protecting 30% of the ocean in areas with no extraction is needed to maintain healthy marine life.

The Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme is part of the Blue Prosperity Coalition, a network aiming to help governments achieve 30% marine protection while growing their ocean economies.

Bermuda is the latest island nation in the Atlantic Ocean to protect their territorial waters. The Azores, Barbuda and Curaçao have also announced similar commitments as part of the Blue Prosperity Coalition.

Ascension Island has also received UK government support for its call to designate all its waters as a marine protected area, with no fishing allowed, which would make it the largest fully protected marine reserve in the Atlantic.