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Turnbull Reiterates Gov't Commitment To 'Blue Economy'

Turnbull Reiterates Gov't Commitment To 'Blue Economy'

Hon. Melvin 'Mitch' Turnbull, Minister of Natural Resources and Labour in his address at the United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference in Libson Portugal stated that the Virgin Islands remains fully committed to implementing Sustainable Development Goal 14.
The goal is to “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development".

This Sustainable Development Goal is especially relevant to the Virgin Islands since, in accordance with international law, the British Virgin Islands has rights and responsibilities over approximately 200 nautical miles or 84,000 square kilometers of maritime space, which is significantly more expansive than the Territory’s land area.

According to Hon. Turnbull, “We are following through on our obligations through a combination of marine conservation measures and the development of a sustainable blue economy. In this regard, good progress is being made on re-growing our mangrove forests and expanding our coral nurseries.”

He also stressed the importance of protecting sharks and rays, and cautioned that preventative measures should be implemented to control overfishing. Further, to ensure that sustainability of the blue economy is prioritised, there has been increased action in holding vessel owners accountable in complying with regulations.

“Our goal is to become the most sustainable sailing destination in the world in line with our position as the sailing capital of the world. We believe that our ongoing implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 strikes the right balance for the sustainable management and use of our marine resources that will protect the marine environment and support the growth of our economy,” Hon. Turnbull expressed.

In addition, Hon. Turnbull announced that marine-based tourism and yachting have rebounded, since the fall out of the COVID 19 pandemic.

However, further development of the national blue economy framework will rely on the government of the Virgin Islands facilitating the sustainable development of the maritime tourism sub-sector and enhancement of the fisheries sector.

Hon. Turnbull emphasized that these initiatives should be supported by increasing efforts to provide accessible information, and research resources to the Virgin Islands public on marine environment and the Blue economy.

He advocated for comprehensive research to be undertaken in the area of the blue economy, in which the Territory can potentially capitalize on.

“We believe that in developing a strategic outlook for our Blue Economy Roadmap, we will promote sustainable economic growth, ensure food security, improve environmental governance and stewardship, transition to a more climate-resilient Territory, and sustain the ecological integrity of the marine environment,” Hon. Turnbull stated at the week-long conference.
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