Dutch caretaker State Secretary of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation Henk Bleker has confirmed his commitment to protect the coral reefs of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. However, he will not take additional measures, because the reefs are already sufficiently protected.
In response to written questions submitted by now departed Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Ineke van Gent (green left party GroenLinks), Bleker recently stated that he found it important that the reefs in the Caribbean were well protected.
Coral reefs in the Dutch Caribbean have been adversely affected by external factors like pollution and aggressive fishing practices, but the decline is not as
severe as in other parts of the Caribbean, where four fifths of the living reef has disappeared, according to International Union for Conservation of Nature
(IUCN). The decline of coral reefs in the Dutch Caribbean has been limited to 30 per cent, according to Bleker. This is mainly due to the fact that coral reefs have been actively protected for a long time within the Dutch Kingdom through, among other means, the various marine parks.
The four countries in the Kingdom, The Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten, are responsible for the protection of coral reefs in their own country. This means that The Netherlands is responsible for the coral reefs in the Dutch public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.
The three islands have marine parks. The Saba Bank has been designated as a nature park and will be actively protected. The sewage treatment plant and sewerage will protect the coral reefs in Bonaire against sewage pollution.
Bleker said he didn’t see the need for additional measures in response to the IUCN report on Caribbean corals. That report released early September and subsequent articles in various newspapers were reason for Member of Parliament Van Gent to pose written questions. The State Secretary assured Van Gent that The Netherlands had already contributed to improving cooperation in the Caribbean region through the Cartagena Convention on Biological Diversity and the associated protocols as well as the International Coral Reef Initiative. “Especially Bonaire and Saba have a longstanding, exemplary role in the area
of coral-reef protection. The marine parks of the three islands are involved in exchange of know-how and training programmes in the areas of management
and coral-reef protection in the region,” Bleker concluded.
Source: The Daily Herald October 23, 2012