Caribbean coral reefs have been declining for decades due to a combination of anthropogenic drivers and natural phenomena like hurricanes. The degradation of coral reefs is characterised by, among others, a decline in coral cover, a decline in apex predators (e.g. sharks, large groupers and snappers), a decline in invertebrates (Diadema), and an increase in macro-algal cover. In the past 40 years large-scale shifts from coral-dominated to macro-algal-dominated reef communities have occurred throughout the Caribbean.
Healthy coral reef ecosystems and sustainable coastal fisheries are of utmost importance for the small island economies of Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius. Bonaire (288 km2) is located in the southern Caribbean and is surrounded by the Bonaire National Marine Park (BNMP) which was established in 1979. The BNMP starts at the high-water mark and extends to 60m depth, covering an area of 27 km . In 2008 two fish reserves (no fishing allowed) and two dive reserves (no diving or snorkelling allowed) were established. In this report we document the 2014-2015 status of the coral reef fish stocks, the coral reef fisheries and the coastal pelagic fisheries. Where possible the current status and trends will be discussed in a historical and wider geographical (Caribbean) perspective.