The Bonaire National Marine Park was first established in 1979. It surrounds the island of Bonaire and includes the satellite island and the waters around Klein Bonaire. Bonaire lies in the Southern Caribbean approximately 100km (60 miles) north of Venezuela and 12’ north of the equator. Bonaire is unusual in that it is a true oceanic island, separated from the South American mainland by a deep water trench. Bonaire is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and is regarded by the European Union as an Overseas Territory. The marine park falls entirely within the territorial waters and jurisdiction of the Island of Bonaire and is protected by the Marine Environment Ordinance (A.B 1991 Nr.8). The marine park was declared a National Park by the Central Government of the Netherlands Antilles in November 1999. For issues related to World Heritage, Ramsar wetlands, threatened and endangered species, migratory species and marine pollution the Central Government Department of Nature and the Environment (MINA) also has jurisdiction.
The marine park includes 2,700 hectares of coral reef, seagrass and mangrove ecosystems and provides habitat for a diverse range of marine species including over 50 species of stony coral and more than 350 species of reef fish. Sea turtles nest on the shores of Klein Bonaire and forage in Lac, a semi enclosed seagrass and mangrove bay located on the islands windward shore. Bottlenose and Spinner dolphin as well as various species of whale can be found seasonally in the seas around Bonaire. Bonaire is regularly visited by migratory birds.
Bonaire has a well deserved international reputation for excellence in the field of SCUBA diving and is routinely listed in the top five destinations for the Caribbean.
The Bonaire National Marine Park consists of the waters around Bonaire from the high water mark to the 200’ (60m) depth contour, the island of Klein Bonaire and its surrounding waters and the mangrove, seagrass and coral reefs of Lac. The park is managed by a local non governmental, not for profit foundation, STINAPA Bonaire which has a co-management structure with stakeholders, conservationists and local interest groups represented on the Board. The day to day management is carried out under the supervision of a Director but the Marine Park manager, Chief Ranger and Rangers employed by STINAPA Bonaire.
The marine park is managed predominately for biodiversity conservation, the promotion of sustainable use and for the protection of cultural and historical sites within the park with the aim of providing protection for the island’s unique marine resources whilst allowing appropriate recreational and commercial use to be made of the park.
This is the first management plan for the Bonaire National Marine Park. Rapid changes in management over the past six years have highlighted the need for a strategic document to guide management decision making and to better define the mission, goals and objective of the park. It is also a prerequisite for Bonaire’s World Heritage Site nomination and essential if the park is going to begin monitoring its own effectiveness.
This document has been prepared in close consultation with STINAPA Bonaire, their management and staff and a considerable number of stakeholders and stakeholder group representatives.
The plan specifies management goals and strategies for the Bonaire National Marine Park related to the park’s mission, which is to conserve and manage the natural, cultural and historical resources within the park, allowing their sustainable use for the benefit of current and future generations. It also identifies the major existing and potential threats and issues facing the park from ecological, social and cultural perspectives and includes substantial input from stakeholders. It is designed to be an adaptive management tool.