The Dutch Caribbean Committee on Marine Biodiversity and Fisheries EEZ, gathered on Saba for a two-day session, establishing the way forward on a series of regional marine conservation issues. Commissioner Chris Johnson gave the opening remarks Tuesday, noting that, “Sometimes it is difficult to see cooperation among the members of the Kingdom, and the EEZ Committee is an example that we can work together. Conservation and environmental protection should be above politics, something on which we can all work together…We hope the cooperation will continue to improve.”
Saba Conservation Foundation parks manager Kai Wulf was appointed chair of the meeting with participation of committee members from St. Eustatius and the Netherlands. The committee also recognised observers to the meeting, including permanent observers such as the Royal Dutch Caribbean Coastguard and the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance DCNA.
Among the recommendations of the first meeting, held in Statia in October 2011, were for NuStar oil terminal to include adequate emergency response plans; that the Marine Mammal Sanctuary in the Caribbean EEZ waters of the Kingdom be established; that a precautionary approach be taken and a moratorium on new fishing permits be issued.
Another recommendation was for the Saba government to take the necessary steps to quickly curb the developing trap fishery in its coastal waters. The committee commissioned reviews of available regional studies on the effects of fish-trapping on fish populations in limited reef areas, applicable in establishing necessary regulations of the fishery around Saba.
A final recommendation of that meeting was that a uniform status be established for the special agents of police, Bavpol, in the different entities and Kingdom countries.
During Tuesday’s sessions, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation (EL and I) representative Hayo Haanstra held a presentation on the ministry’s risk analysis of shipping. Marine Ecological Institute Imares representative Martin de Graaf made a presentation on fishery monitoring. In the afternoon, EL and I delegate Pieter van Baren held a presentation on the Regional Fisheries Management Organisation and the Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission’s meeting in Panama. He also presented on other regional fisheries instruments, such as the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism and the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute. These presentations were followed by reports from Saba and Statia committee members.
Cynthia Devere will provide a Coast Guard report today, Wednesday. A major topic of today’s discussions will be the Saba Bank management and the establishment of a Saba Bank patrol boat, as well as the terms of reference for Saba Bank management. That session will be facilitated by EL and I’s nature policy coordinator Paul Hoetjes, the secretary of the EEZ Committee. He will also open up the discussion on cooperation with neighbouring countries on marine mammal sanctuaries.