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Photo by Government of Bermuda, Department of Environment and Natural Resources___________


Learn more about the proposed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Bermuda's Marine Spatial Plan.
Different maps show the offshore, nearshore and coastal areas, and together these maps represent Bermuda’s MPA Network. This aims expand currently legislated marine areas in Bermuda.

MPAs are specially designated parts of the ocean set aside for long-term conservation. The idea is to choose representative areas of the ocean and keep them as healthy as possible so they can continue to provide essential benefits, called ecosystem services, for current and future generations, including protecting our coastlines, supporting well-functioning fisheries, mitigating the impacts of climate change, enhancing the tourism industry, and many more.

  • Protecting and restoring our marine environment

  • Replenishing commercially important fish stocks

  • Protecting fish nursery habitats and spawning grounds

  • Maintaining the full variety of marine life

  • Protecting unique underwater geologic features, such as seamounts

  • Ensuring long-term sustainable use of natural resources

  • Safeguarding underwater cultural heritage, such as shipwrecks

  • Increasing revenue for tourism and ocean-related businesses

  • Increasing job opportunities in ocean industries

Designation as an MPA protects an area from activities that could have a negative impact on the ecosystem. Examples include potentially damaging activities, such as dumping or infrastructure development, and so-called "extractive activities", such as fishing and mining. Activities such as swimming, SCUBA diving, and snorkeling, or “non-extractive activities” that do not cause damage or remove anything from the ocean, are a great way to enjoy the animals and plants that live within the MPAs. See the Use Charts in the Blue Prosperity Plan for an extended list of activities.

Permitted activities include:

Prohibited activities include:



Vessel transit
and boating




enhancement for conservation


Bermuda's Marine Spatial Plan

Photo by Chris Burville

Levels of Protection

  • Fully Protected: allows all non-extractive or non-destructive uses (e.g., diving, boating) and prohibits all activities that would damage habitats or cultural heritage (e.g., mining, development) or remove marine life (e.g., fishing).

  • Pelagic Zones: Surface trolling and spearfishing f or pelagic species allowed, prohibits bottom fishing and all other extractive or destructive activities.

  • Fisheries Areas: prohibits development and other destructive activities to safeguard important fishing areas and valuable habitat.

  • Catch & Release Only: allows catch & release fly fishing, prohibits all other extractive or destructive activities.

  • Special Protection Area: allows all non-extractive or non-destructive uses (e.g., diving, boating), allows for maintenance of existing infrastructure and prohibits all other extractive or destructive activities.

  • 2 m Mangrove buffer: allows all non-extractive or non-destructive uses (e.g., diving, boating), allows for maintenance of existing infrastructure and prohibits all other extractive or destructive activities.

  • Shoreline Buffer: Allows permitted shoreline activities (e.g., approved development, infrastructure maintenance and hook-and-line fishing).

  • Cable Zone: allows cable maintenance work, prohibits all other extractive or destructive activities.

  • Seasonal No-Netting: prohibits net fishing (except dip netting) from May to October, inclusive.

  • No Net Fishing: prohibits net fishing.

  • Lightly Protected Areas: Surface fishing (including small scale pelagic long-lining) allowed, prohibits all other extractive or destructive activities.

Currently Legislated Areas

The map shows currently legislated areas in Bermuda’s waters. These areas and legislation will remain unchanged under the proposed legislation, and have been considered in the MSP’s design. These areas will work alongside and be expanded by the proposed MPA network. 

The Fisheries Act of 1972 provides for the creation of the Fisheries (Protected Areas) Order 2000,  which prohibits the take of fish or the use of any anchor other than a Danforth (sand) anchor at several historic wrecks and other dive locations around the island. These areas are known as Protected Dive Sites. Additionally, shipwrecks that are over 50 years old are governed under the Historic Wrecks Act 2001 which provides for the protection and scientific management of Bermuda’s underwater cultural heritage assets.

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Offshore Network


The offshore MPA network covers Bermuda’s waters from the 2,000 metre (m) depth contour around the Bermuda platform to the boundary of the island’s EEZ, which extends 200 nautical miles (nm) from Bermuda’s coastline. 

MPAs far from shore can help protect whole ocean features, including seamounts, or submarine canyons, and support the conservation and management of highly mobile species, like tuna.

Offshore fully protected areas include the Muir Seamount Chain (A13), which protects unique seamounts, and the Southwestern EEZ (A14), which preserves rare deep-ocean ecosystems, including benthic habitats such as hills, plains and valleys, and their inhabitants.

Nearshore Network


The nearshore MPA network covers Bermuda’s waters from the mean high-water mark at the coastline to the 2000 m depth contour. 

Areas proposed for full protection in the nearshore MPA network are spread across the Bermuda Platform to account for different prevailing environmental conditions that may affect both marine organisms and human uses, and also to reduce the impact on resource users operating from any one part of the island. Designing the network in this way helps the MSP meet a variety of its ecological objectives while simultaneously taking into consideration economic, cultural and social impacts of the Plan’s implementation.

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Coastal Network


As with the offshore and nearshore networks, the coastal network builds upon currently legislated areas and existing management frameworks for fisheries and marine environmental protection, as well as regulatory procedures for development in Bermuda’s marine waters. 

The coastal network introduces additional protection designations to account for the wide variety of activities that take place in Bermuda’s coastal waters.

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Proposed Nearshore
Fully Protected Areas

What is being protected?

Historic Shipwrecks


Coral Reefs &
Fish Habitats


Fish Spawning 
& Nurseries




Rare Species




Important Fish Species





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Spotlight: Fisheries Areas

A large area that includes the Challenger and Argus Banks (B1) and a region near North Rock (B6) have been designated as “fisheries areas.” Under this designation, all legal fishing activities can continue as permitted under existing regulations; however, development and other destructive activities, such as seabed mining, are now prohibited to protect the valuable habitat and fishing grounds. 


The offshore banks are important habitat for several species of pelagic fishes and marine mammals. The deep slopes of the banks and the Bermuda Platform support distinct coral, sponge, and fish communities. Strong ocean currents bring in nutrients and a variety of top predator fishes, such as tunas and wahoo, and extensive fishing occurs on the banks and along the perimeter of the Bermuda Platform.

What can I do in fisheries areas?

Permitted activities:

All legal fishing activities


Prohibited activities:

All other extractive or destructive activities, including development

What areas will be fully protected on the Bermuda platform?

Areas were selected based on extensive scientific data about Bermuda’s marine life, as well as data on how people use our ocean.


Western Grouper Box (A1) &

Eastern Grouper Box (A12) 

The two grouper boxes protect the spawning grounds of the black grouper, an important fishery species, and the coral reefs they use for shelter.


Chub Heads (A2)

Recovering seagrass beds and good water quality support juvenile fishes and several rare and threatened species (e.g., queen conch and sea horses).


Daniel’s Head (A3)

Daniel’s Head is an important nursery and juvenile fish recruitment area that links mangroves, seagrass, and patch reefs.


Eastern Blue Cut (A4)

This is one of Bermuda’s most popular dive and snorkel spots. Incorporating a smaller area already protected from fishing, it would expand protection to nearby reefs and prohibit any extractive or destructive activities.


South Shore Reefs (A5)

This area is home to coral reefs, many types of fish, and historic wrecks. It will expand existing protected areas to create ecological corridors for marine species.

North Shore Nursery (A6)

Important patch reef habitats provide shelter for young fish and connects to a protected corridor, offering a safe passage for different habitats and promoting biodiversity.


North Lagoon (A7)
Linked patch reefs form a crucial "protective corridor" for marine life, assisting their ability to move within the MPA network throughout their lifecycle.


North Rock (A8)
Home to large healthy corals and an important dive site, expanding existing protection here would improve the area's resilience against human and environmental threats.


Coot Pond Area (A9)
This area creates an ecological corridor that connects mangroves and patch reefs for fish to travel. It also protects spawning ground for the valuable blue-striped grunt.


Castle Harbour Islands and Reefs (A10)
This area connects nursery habitats for reef fish and baitfish populations to South Shore coral reefs. Baitfish support commercial fisheries and seabirds.


North East Breaker (A11)
This area has high coral cover and two existing protected dive sites, with the wreckage of multiple ships. It would protect important nursery grounds and migratory routes.

About the Fully Protected Areas

Swipe through the slides below to view details on each of the proposed fully protected areas in the Bermuda platform.

Photo by Triangle Diving Ltd. __BlackGrouper SPAG.jpg
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