Coral Reef Resilience Assessment of the Bonaire National Marine Park, Netherlands Antilles


Although Bonaire’s coral reefs remain among the healthiest and most resilient in the Caribbean, this IUCN report based on the IUCN Resilience Assessment of Coral Reefs highlights some of the threats that exist to Bonaire’s coral reefs, and which could have serious implications for resilience to future climate change and other threats. The report identified recommendations for addressing the current threats, as well as high and low resilience sites.

The threats and recommendations identified include:

Coastal development and artificial beaches.
Recommendation: All coastal construction on Bonaire should be strictly regulated and follow the construction guidelines. The guidelines should become law in order to be enforced appropriately.

Leaching from septic tanks.
Recommendation: It is strongly recommended that Bonaire invest in appropriate sewage treatment facilities to improve water quality and increase the resilience of its valuable coral reefs. It is also recommended that a water quality monitoring program be set up and sustained.

Increasing damselfish populations.
Recommendation: It is recommended that the fishing of predatory fish species on Bonaire’s coral reefs be controlled and managed to a sustainable level to prevent population explosions of prey fish capable of modifying the reef habitat.

Trididemnum and Lobophora.
Recommendation: It is recommended that the populations of Trididemnum and Lobophora are closely monitored and the factors contributing to the unnatural abun- dance of these coral-overgrowing organisms should be studied and then eliminated.

Due to a variety of factors affecting resilience which were assessed using the IUCN methodology, sites were also ranked according to their overall resilience: 

It is noteworthy that sites with lowest resilience ratings (e.g. Chachácha) are those most impacted by coastal development, while sites with highest resilience ratings (e.g. Marine Reserve North, Playa Frans, Karpata, Margate Bay, Vista Blue and South Bay) are those furthest away and least impacted by coastal development. 

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