Large marine apex predators have become exceedlingly rare in shallow neritic waters around most Caribbean islands, including the ABC-island (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) of the Leeward Dutch Caribbean. This is especially the case for several species of sharks. In May 2000, 24 2-hr long deepwater submersible dives were conducted off the isaldns of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, at depths ranging between 80-900m. Eight shark sightings were recorded, amounting to 6 different species, among which the endnagered Hexanchus griseus. These observations suggest a surprising diversity and density of deepwater sharks aroudn the steep island slopes of leeward Dutch islands.
Beek, I.J.M. van
The Southern Caribbean forms a separate biogeographic province for marine mollusks and marine fish faunas. The terrestrial desert and xeric shrublands and Venezuelan mangrove ecosystems are not yet represented on the World Heritage List or on any national Tentative List. In addition BNMP is located in the Caribbean Islands Hotspot and two Ramsar sites which are also recognized as Key Biodiversity Areas (Important Bird Areas) are found in the boundaries of BNMP. Any terrestrial extension of the proposed nomination could add additional IBAs and include vegetation ecoregions not represented.
However, there are a large number of natural World Heritage Sites with marine values and the combination of mangrove, seagrass and coral, and even saliñas or hypersalinity, is found in several other marine World Heritage Sites. The comparison analysis highlighted the importance of BNMP to make itself distinctive for criteria vii. For criteria ix the difficulty in finding specific information on parrotfish or herbivore biomass, carbonate production or coral reef growth, % hard coral cover and % algal cover suggests that the chosen attributes will fill a gap in ecological processes.
We identify three action points by which to further increase the Bonaire Marine Park nomination prospects as a World Heritage site: a terrestrial extension, a 12 miles zone extension and a transboundary extension. While the last option is expected to increase prospects most, the first and second option are more feasible to establish. Both of them would increase the integrity of Bonaire Marine Park. A terrestrial extension would include xeric shrubland which is not yet represented in any World Heritage site. The 12 miles zone extension would include endangered species, which demonstrates the global importance, as well as new species, which uniqueness still needs to be demonstrated and requires further research.
This report describes the potential Outstanding Universal Value of the Bonaire National Marine Park from an ecological perspective, that is, according to World Heritage natural criteria vii and ix as defined by the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (UNESCO, 2013).
The Bonaire National Marine Park is an outstanding example of a fringing coral reef that has evolved to one of the most diverse reef in the Caribbean.
The Bonaire Marine Park, protected since 1979 and declared a National Park in 1999, includes one of the healthiest coral reef in the Caribbean and two Ramsar sites which include mangrove forests and seagrass meadows, globally important for 4 species of endangered species of marine turtles and at least 29 species of migratory waterbirds and a nursery habitat for many reef fish species. The coral reef is characterized by one of the highest cover of living corals in the Caribbean, large schools of grazing fish for biological control of macroalgae and the reef has an important function as a source of larvae for tropical ecosystems downstream.
The seascape of Bonaire Marine Park offers spectacular seaviews of crystal clear water in different shades of blue, contrasted by green coastal vegetation, white sandy beaches, hypersaline saliñas in different shades of pink in the south and steep limestone cliffs in the north. The high visibility of the crystal clear water and colourful underwater scenery offer spectacular and diverse views of large Montastrea coral mounds in the north, a unique double reef parallel to the fringing reef in the south and waving gorgonian fields on the exposed east coast reef. The fringing reef supports large schools of reef fish and over 500 species, including globally threatened species of sharks and rays and a resident population of impressive tarpons.
The proposed property encompasses all the biophysical and ecological processes that characterise a natural and sustainable ecosystem: the highest carbonate production rate in the Caribbean, large coral colonies and high parrotfish grazing rate. These components of a resilient reef, combined with the location of Bonaire outside of the Caribbean hurricane belt, result in the highest hard coral cover and one of the lowest macro algae cover in the Caribbean.
Well established standards of protection, management and monitoring ensure that the coral reef and associated mangrove and seagrass ecosystems of the Bonaire Marine Park will continue to evolve naturally and to support human uses for the foreseeable future in a sustainable way for generations to come. Bonaire is a volcanic oceanic island with steep reef slopes and lies is a small but unique southern Caribbean arid zone outside the principal hurricane belt. This means that the reefs are relatively little- stressed by sediment, freshwater and hurricane disturbance. The island is structurally fortuitous with conditions essential for the long-term support of healthy coral reefs. As reefs in the region continue to rapidly decline, the arid southern Caribbean represents the last best hope for regional coral reefs and the relative importance of Bonaire’s reefs will continue to increase in the future due to their exceptional resilience. The Bonaire Marine Park is the oldest established marine park in the Caribbean and includes two no-use marine reserves and two no-take fish reserves. Fishing on the ecological important parrotfish is traditionally low on Bonaire and has been banned completely in the entire marine park since 2010.
The global comparative analysis identified opportunities to build the case for BNMP as a distinct and important area potentially worthy of international recognition. The comparisons did not clearly highlight how BNMP is irreplaceable, however the findings do suggest that it is representative of a healthy Caribbean coral reef ecosystem. BNMP fills a gap in the marine biogeography as there is no World Heritage Site in the Southern Caribbean.
In 2015 an Expert group assessed the ten Dutch World Heritage candidate sites and advised the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science with regards to the potential nomination of Bonaire National Marine Park. The conclusion was that further research is needed to demonstrate its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). According to the Expert group, the current size and boundaries of BNMP do not contain features which qualify the property as unique, hence extension of the BNMP boundaries was recommended. Possibilities for extension are the island Curaçao, the islands off the coast of Venezuela and the 12 miles zone.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Affairs it was decided to start by studying the nature values of the 12 miles zone of Bonaire, because this is the most feasible boundary extension. The 12 miles zone of Bonaire has a total area of almost 360,000 ha, which is a 74-fold enlargement compared to the 4,860 ha of the current boundaries of BNMP.
The objective was to determine the existence of potential nature values per zone based on the following criteria: rare, threatened or characteristic species; rare, untouched or undisturbed geomorphological features; important physical oceanographic features; potential ecosystem services. An inventory of previous studies by IMARES and available data from two deep sea expeditions in 2000 and 2013 were incorporated in this study.
Our review updates the current state of knowledge on the deep sea of the Caribbean Sea, focussing on the 12 miles zone of Bonaire. It provides a general framework for the decision making process on the boundary extension of the potential World Heritage Site and how to strengthen the potential OUV.
The available information shows that the 12 miles zone contains some attributes that will strengthen the OUV to some extent, such as the discovery of 16 species new to science at the deeper reef of Bonaire and the presence of some species endemic to the Southern Caribbean Ecoregion. Convincing documentation is still lacking, however evidence from past deep sea expeditions indicates that further studies of deep water biodiversity will likely easily yield a wealth of new species. Also potential offshore sea mounts within the 12 miles zone of Bonaire may be worthwhile investigating, by mapping the seafloor through a bathymetric survey. These potential habitats, structures and new species in the 12 miles zone of Bonaire could greatly add to the OUV of the BNMP.
This deskstudy gives a review of small pelagic fish species and fisheries in the Dutch Caribbean, specifically species which distributions exceed the national boundaries and where international cooperation in research and management is required. The need for this study was recently identified as a high priority action in the 2010 EEZ management plan written for the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. A list of schooling pelagic species with maximum sizes of 40 cm was prepared, based on the occurrence in waters deeper than 200m, in the Dutch Caribbean and Wider Caribbean Area. As a next step the (importance for) the fisheries and biology is described with a focus on the following four species (groups): Sardines (Sardinella aurita), Scads (Carangidae), Anchovy (Engraulidae) and Flyingfishes, in particular Hirundichthys speculiger and Cheilopogon cyanopterus. A fifth group, consisting of clupeids (Clupidae) and halfbeaks (Hemiramphidae) are not truly pelagic because of their association with reefs and coastal distribution, but are locally abundant and important as bait fish.
From a management perspective, small pelagic fish in the Caribbean can be divided into three groups: (1) Species with pelagic behaviour, but coastally bound. 10-20 species, wide spread in the region, locally abundant and targeted as bait fish. This group consists of Carangidae, Clupeidae, Engraulidae and Hemiramphidae. These can be monitored in local sea going surveys because the species are more or less coastal (<less than 20 km). However, catches of small pelagic species are not monitored or surveyed, hence it is often not clear what species are involved. An appropriate survey method to monitor abundance of schooling pelagic fish is echo integration. (2) True pelagic (oceanic) species: all flying fishes, wide spread in the region. Heavily targeted as bait fish, locally for human consumption (Barbados). They are clearly crossing boundaries of EEZ’s in the region. The species involved are wide spread and due to their behaviour difficult to monitor by means of a fisheries independent, sea going survey. (3) Sardinella aurita, off shore distribution, limited to an area of upwelling off the coast of Venezuela. The monitoring of the stock is a Venezuelan appointment, although at the margins, some EEC boundaries are crossed (Columbian, Dutch).
Given the importance for the ecosystem from a Dutch perspective the main focus for further research in the Dutch EEZ, should be given to coastal pelagic species in the pelagic area’s adjacent to coastal reef zones around the archipelagos. This implies no international coordination for this group in the executional phase of the survey. The second group – flyingfishes - requires more international cooperation. This group should be surveyed within ecosystem focussed surveys, running multiple methodologies like visual observations of birds and mammals, biological sampling of fish and hydrographical observations.
The potential for a small pelagic fishery in the Dutch EEZ is discussed. Direct consumption of small pelagic fish, rather than using it in the reduction sector, is more efficient from a biological and an economical point of view. For the Dutch EEZ, as a first step a (bio-)economic study into the potential of the development of a sustainable fishery for small pelagic fish in the Dutch EEZ could be initiated. The flyingfish fishery in Barbados could be used as an example or a reference. Depending on the presence of local pelagic resources, such a study should not merely focus on flying fish but should include all small pelagic fish. The Barbados flying fish fishery could also be used as an example for a local experimental fisheries project.
Finally it is recommended to start collecting data in the pelagic area’s adjacent to coastal reef zones by yearly fisheries independent sea going surveys. The best survey technique for small pelagic fish is fisheries acoustics. However, a holistic approach, incorporating observations of multiple trophic levels, using different strategies within a single survey would be highly preferable. This means that such a survey should be combined with systematic visual observations of seabirds and cetaceans as well as the collection of zooplankton and environmental data.
The Nature Policy Plan Caribbean Netherlands identifies the need to “Evaluate the financial instruments available for nature conservation in the Caribbean Netherlands and make recommendations aimed at guaranteeing a sustainable financial future” as one of its strategic actions. Three preceding studies investigated budget requirements and sustainable funding of nature (MINA 2000, Spergel 2005, Spergel 2014). These studies focused on the potential sources of income to achieve financial sustainability and led amongst others to the establishment of the trust fund.
The aim of this study by IMARES is to provide insight in the financial needs to carry out park management tasks based on quantifiable tasks. So, rather than the functional approach of earlier studies, which quantified budget needs based on staffing of the park management organizations, we here introduce a task-based approach to identify budget requirements. In this we used elements of the Netherlands cost standards for nature management ('normenboek') to build an analytical calculation model which quantifies the annual budget requirements and human resources based on quantitative estimates of prices for material and labor. The budget requirements were then used to determine the financial gap between financial needs and income sources.
We incorporated the preliminary list of core management tasks recently developed by DCNA and the parks (Appendix A) and re-arranged the list in three levels (responsibilities-tasks-activities). Then we prioritized the four most important responsibilities to achieve the primary goal of nature conservation (infrastructure, education, monitoring, enforcement), merged similar tasks (e.g. monitoring and research) and included additional essential tasks. Furthermore we subdivided tasks in several tangible and quantifiable activities.
Critical monitoring tasks which we also included were a) habitat and species restoration and b) abiotic monitoring. Restoration from losses or damage to habitats and species is part of the primary goal of protecting nature against two major global threats to biodiversity: invasive species and habitat loss and destruction. Abiotic monitoring of factors that influence the abundance or distribution of key species and systems over time (e.g. rainfall, seawater temperature, salinity and water quality) was also included as it is essential to understand ecosystem trends for management purposes.
We further emphasize the importance of infrastructure and explicitly highlighted a number of infrastructure components which we consider essential: a) fences, grids and corrals to keep livestock out and animals in which are essential to protect sensitive habitats and structures; b) freshwater structures which are essential as water supply for flora and fauna; and c) routine maintenance and trimming of mangroves trees which is essential to keep the mangrove channels open.
Based on these prioritizations and extensive cost price information and estimates, the annual budget requirements of the core tasks are estimated at approx. USD 1,461,000 for STINAPA, USD 669,000 for STENAPA and also USD 669,000 for SCF (Table 3.1). The precise calculation of the budget requirements – specified at activity level - can be found in Appendix B.
Three financial gaps were identified: 1) the difference in annual budget requirements according to this study and according to an earlier DCNA assessment; 2) the financial gap in the DCNA trust fund required to start generating returns on investment; and 3) the difference between the annual budget requirements according to this study and the current income sources. With regards to the latter, STENAPA and SCF both have a structural financial deficit between financial needs and income resources amounting to USD 470,000 and 270,000, respectively. STINAPA only has a minor financial gap in 2015 amounting to USD 40,000 due to the financing of overdue mangrove maintenance.
We recommend parties to use the task-based calculation model as designed in this study for future management and fundraising purposes and to plan and justify the activities and budget requirements of the park management organizations. However, the price, cost and activity assumptions made in our calculation model should be validated by a third party and/or by the park management organizations e.g. through a workshop and should be regularly updated. We also recommend a sensitivity analysis of minimum and maximum amounts for different scenarios to be included in the calculation model. Furthermore the calculation model is generally applicable and can also be used and adapted to estimate the budget requirements of park management organizations on Curaçao and St. Maarten, and to calculate the appropriate level of the trust fund capital needed to ensure financial sustainability for nature management for the five participating islands.
Worldwide many shark populations are in strong decline mainly due to fisheries. Population status of sharks in the Caribbean is still poorly known. In order to be able to take effective measures to protect sharks, insight in their spatial behaviour during different life stages is required. Do marine parks enhance shark populations and if so at what scale?
In the Caribbean Netherlands, a unique opportunity for research on spatial behaviour is provided by the still relative high abundance of sharks on the Saba Bank, Saba and St Eustatius. To study individual movement patterns and site fidelity of sharks species that use reefs, acoustic telemetry is a proven successful technology.
As a first step, we started a pilot study with acoustic telemetry on Caribbean reef sharks and nurse sharks on the reefs directly around Saba in October 2014. Our goals were to obtain: 1) experience with using existing infrastructure and organisations in setting up a shark telemetric study; 2) experience in catching methods and insight in effort needed for these target shark species; 3) a first indication of the scale of individual movement patterns in time; and 4) raise local awareness of importance of sharks.
An array of eight detection stations (VEMCO VR2W receivers) was deployed on or near existing anchored mooring buoys at the pinnacles and the reef surrounding the island of Saba. In the last week of October 2014, in total eight Caribbean reef sharks (115-184 cm) and four nurse sharks (94-210 cm) of different life stages were implanted with VEMCO V16 transmitters (with battery life of 4.5 years) and released at the catch site. For Caribbean reef sharks, rod and line, and for nurse sharks, long-line fishing for short duration during night proved most favourable, though catching nurse sharks required more effort than Caribbean reef sharks. In addition, two nurse sharks were obtained from bycatch in lobster pot fisheries.
A first read out of the receivers was carried out in early December 2014. The first preliminary results showed that all sharks were detected after release and that most Caribbean reef sharks were detected throughout the first six weeks and mostly around only a few receivers. This suggests a very local habitat use of the reefs around Saba. Two Caribbean reef sharks appear to use a larger proportion of the reefs around the island. For the three juvenile nurse sharks habitat use appeared to be even more local since they were only detected at one receiver throughout the first six weeks. The larger female nurse shark was only detected directly after release and her spatial behaviour thereafter remains unclear as of yet.
In the coming years these sharks will yield more data on year-round habitat use. In the autumn of 2015 we will also use a mobile receiver to detect tagged sharks present at the reefs around Saba in between the stationary receivers. Furthermore, to answer research questions about dispersal, migration, connectivity and meta-population structure we aim to expand the telemetry study to the Saba Bank and given sufficient budget also surrounding islands of St. Eustatius and St. Maarten in 2015.
This pilot study could only be performed through the support of many people and organisations, e.g. the Saba Conservation Foundation. The shark research of IMARES and partners was presented at Sea & learn in Saba and the fieldwork was documented for two Dutch Caribbean TV-programmes. WWF, Wereld Natuur Fonds the Netherlands (WNF), and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs provided the funding for this study.
This report will specifically focus on the spatial distribution of the ecosystem service values and will eventually visualize these values geographically in a total economic value map. The total economic value (TEV) of the ecosystems of St Eustatius is the sum of five different and mutually exclusive economic values. All these values have been previously studied and are published in different reports (Cado van der Lely et al. 2014; Fenkl et al. 2014; Van de Kerkhof et al. 2014). In this report we will merely visualize these values geographically and develop the TEV map. The TEV map will then be used to assess whether current spatial planning covers those ecosystems which are most valuable to the economy of St Eustatius.
When the spatial allocation of the economic value of ecosystems is compared to current spatial policies, the main conclusion is that existing boundaries for nature conservation appear to be on the right place. This however does not imply that policy is currently sufficient to conserve nature’s value since we have done no qualitative assessment of actual management. Moreover some very valuable areas of both terrestrial and marine environment are placed outside protective areas.
According to the spatial analyses of the values of St Eustatius’ ecosystems we have formulated the following three recommendations:
• Current protective zoning designations, both marine and terrestrial, are located in such a way that they protect the most valuable natural assets of St Eustatius. It is therefore vital that these zonings and regulations are strictly enforced to maintain the economic value of the ecosystems.
• One area along the slopes of the Quill Volcano could be reassessed for its zoning. According to our analysis this area encompasses some vital ecosystems and construction on this area could be further limited. We therefore recommend further research into this area and presumably a different zoning designation.
• The anchorage zone for NuStar could be reassessment reassessed since it is coinciding with a very valuable part of the coral reef. We recommend to investigate whether it would be possible to locate the anchorage zone further away from valuable coral.
This report will specifically focus on the spatial distribution of the ecosystem values and eventually visualize these values geographically in a total economic value map. The total economic value (TEV) of the ecosystems of Saba is the sum of several different and mutually exclusive economic values. All these values have been previously studied and are published in different reports (Cado van der Lely et al. 2014; Dekker et al. 2014; Van de Kerkhof et al. 2014). In this report we will merely visualize these values geographically and add up the values to create the TEV map. The TEV map will then be used to assess whether current spatial planning covers those ecosystems which are most valuable to the economy of Saba.
The TEV map has clearly demonstrated that for the marine and the terrestrial ecosystems of Saba, the economic value is highly concentrated on relatively small areas. On the island the economic value is mostly concentrated on the slopes of Mount Scenery. This value can for a large part be attributed to what tourist spend and are willing to pay for a vacation enjoying the natural beauty of trails around Mount Scenery. The marine value can almost solely be attributed to the coral reefs of the coastal waters of Saba.
Although, there are several policies in place to manage the areas with high economic value on the terrestrial grounds of Saba, there is no authority that is in charge and responsible for the conservation of certain economically valuable natural areas. To guarantee the sustainability of the concentrated economic value on Mount Scenery, the management of this area could be more sufficiently embedded within the institutional framework of local spatial policy.
The current zoning of the Saba marine park is concurrent with the spatial distribution of economic value. However, some reefs which add a significant value to the economy of Saba are located within the less protective zoning of ‘Multipurpose’. A light alteration to the zoning including this area in the ‘no take’ zoning could provide optimal protection of the coral reef and thus retain the economic value of the marine park.
Map (GIS) showing the economic values of marine ecosystems on Saba for:
- Carbon sequestration
- Cultural and local recreational value
See this report for more information
For illustration, the excerpt below shows the carbon sequestration: