Today the Government of Bermuda announced the names of the first Sargasso Sea Commission which will "exercise a stewardship role for the Sargasso Sea and keep its health, productivity and resilience under continual review."
The Sargasso Sea Commission is the first body of its kind in the world: mandated to watch over a unique open ocean ecosystem outside the national jurisdiction of any state. Its creation highlights the fact that the majority of high seas areas do not have effective protection regimes.

The five Commissioners, who will serve in their personal capacities, are all of different nationalities; highlighting the international nature of the project and Commission: Dr. Billy Causey (US), Professor Howard Roe (UK), Professor Ricardo Serrão Santos (the Azores), Professor Dire Tladi (South Africa) and Dr. Tammy Trott (Bermuda). Please see below for more information on the Commissioners.

The candidates were each nominated by Signatories to the Hamilton Declaration and the Government of Bermuda was charged with selecting the 5 Commissioners, of whom one is to be Bermudian, from a very strong field of candidates. The Hamilton Declaration requires they be "distinguished scientists and other persons of international repute committed to the conservation of high seas ecosystems." The Commissioners are unpaid, do not represent governments, and will be assisted by a small Secretariat. The Commission will operate in a largely virtual setting allowing funds to be focused toward programmatic work.

The Sargasso Sea Commission is the creation of the Hamilton Declaration on Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea signed in Bermuda in March 11, 2014. Five governments signed the Declaration (Bermuda, US, UK, Monaco and The Azores); representatives from six additional governments also attended and are considering joining as Signatories. Under the terms of the Declaration, the Commission will not have any management authority but will instead recommend proposed measures for governments to submit and/or support at various international and regional organizations.

"The Hamilton Declaration represents a rare oasis of joint voluntary action to protect this high seas gem," says Kristina Gjerde, Chair of the SSA Executive Committee and IUCN Senior High Seas Policy Advisor.

"This is an historic step forward in our effort to conserve the Sargasso Sea and for high seas conservation globally. We are very excited about working with this very distinguished group of experts," says Dr. David Freestone, Executive Secretary of the Sargasso Sea Commission.

Dr. Billy Causey
Regional Director, Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Region
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

Dr. Billy Causey is the Southeast Regional Director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. He has managed Sanctuaries in the Florida Keys since 1983, when he became the Manager of the Looe Key Sanctuary. He served as the Superintendent of the 2900 sq nm Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary from August 1991 to September 2, 2006, when he assumed his current position. Dr. Causey was the lead NOAA official in the development of the management plan for the Keys Sanctuary. He was responsible for establishing the first comprehensive marine zoning plan for the United States. Dr. Causey's academic interests are in coral reef ecology, coral reef fishes, sustainable management, regional connectivity, ecosystem-based management, marine zoning, climate change and marine policy. He has observed and recorded the impacts of climate change on the coral reef ecosystem since 1978. Dr. Causey was among the first coral reef managers to link coral bleaching with elevated sea surface temperatures and to correlate the secondary impacts of coral diseases to the stressors created by the conditions caused by increased water temperatures and other sources of environmental degradation. He has worked on the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Project since 1993 and has been active with numerous initiatives to establish MPA networks around the region.


Professor Howard Roe
Emeritus Professor at the University of Southampton

Professor Howard S J Roe BSc, DSc. is Emeritus Professor at the University of Southampton and was Director of the Southampton Oceanography Centre from 1999-2005. Roe has forty-seven years of experience in marine science ranging from a focus on age determination and feeding in whales, ecology and taxonomy of mid-water oceanic animals and benthic/mid-water interactions, gear and technology developments, time at sea, and bringing together the disciplines of ocean physics and ocean biology. The author of over 100 books, papers and reports, Roe has served as a member of numerous national and international committees. He was coordinator of the development of the Southampton Oceanography Centre and Chair of the building project for the RRS James Cook and has served as co-founder and past chairman of the Partnership for Observing the Global Ocean (POGO).
In retirement Professor Roe has served as a non-executive member of the UK Marine Science Coordination Committee, as a delegate for the UKOT's at ICCAT Commission meetings, and as an assessor for New Zealand's National Science Challenges. He has also served as Chair of the Sargasso Sea Alliance's (SSA) Senior Science Advisory Committee and as a member of the SSA Executive Committee.


Professor Ricardo Serrão Santos
Professor of Marine Ecology, University of the Azores- Horta, Portugal

Professor Ricardo Serrão Santos, MSc, PhD, D.Biol, is a Fellow of the Portuguese Academy of Sciences, and of the Portuguese Navy Academy. He is Professor of Marine Ecology at the University of the Azores- Horta and Invited Professor at the University of Southampton. He is a former Director of the Department of Oceanography and Pro-Rector for the Integration of Sea Affairs at the University of the Azores. In 2002 he was awarded a "Gift to the Earth" by WWF, in November 2013 he was awarded the title of "Chevalier de l' Ordre de Saint Charles" by SAS Prince Albert II of Monaco. In June 2014 he was elected a Member of the European Parliament (MEP). He is the author of more than 200 scientific papers and books.


Professor Dire Tladi
Member of the UN International Law Commission
Professor of International Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Professor Dire Tladi is a prize-winning South African academic, former diplomat, advocate and professor of international law, and as well as a current member of the UN International Law Commission. He is a Professor of International Law at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Formerly a legal advisor of the South African Permanent Mission to the UN, Dire has also served as Principal State Law Advisor of the Foreign Ministry of South Africa. Dire was elected to the UN International Law Commission to serve for a term five years starting in January 2012. He holds an LLB from University of Pretoria, an LLM from the University of Connecticut and a PhD from Erasmus University Rotterdam.


Dr. Tammy Trott
Department of Environmental Protection
Government of Bermuda

Dr. Tammy Trott, Ph.D., is the Senior Marine Resources Officer for the Bermuda Government Department of Environmental Protection, and leads the team that is responsible for the management of all marine resources within Bermuda's 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone. Dr. Trott started her career as a marine biologist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (formerly, the Bermuda Biological Station for Research). Since joining the Bermuda Government in 1995, she has worked on all aspects of fisheries, from biological research to stock assessments to the development of policy and legislation. Dr. Trott also represents Bermuda's marine resources interests in international fora such as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), and has led negotiations for the United Kingdom Overseas Territories delegation on several occasions. Since assuming her current position in July 2009, Dr. Trott has guided the drafting of a strategic vision for the Marine Resources Section which includes an initiative to develop a marine zoning plan for Bermuda waters. This would be the first comprehensive marine zoning plan for Bermuda. Dr. Trott's professional interests include sustainable fisheries management, ecosystem-based management, and the biology of both coral reef and pelagic fishes.


Dr. David Freestone and Kate Morrison published a new article, The Signing of the Hamilton Declaration on Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea: A New Paradigm for High Seas Conservation? which is featured in as an open access publication in The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law. Vol. 29, Issue 2. Pages 345-362.

Contributions in honor of Richard G. Rockefeller
The Sargasso Sea Alliance is honored to have been mentioned by the Rockefeller family as one of the organizations that they wish gifts should be made to in his memory. Many thanks to our recent contributors who made donations in Richard's honor:

  • Nancy Anderson & Dale Gowan
  • David Freestone
  • Institute for New Economic Thinking
  • Masud and Alex Meharan Foundation
  • David E. Shaw

Thank you for your continued interest and support. We look forward to sharing the Commission's progress in the coming months.


Dr. David Freestone, Executive Secretary
Kate Morrison, Deputy Executive Secretary

Sargasso Sea Commission


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For more on the Sargasso Sea Commission, visit

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