Coral reefs

40 years of change on the coral reefs of Curaçao and Bonaire

Coral reef ecosystems

Tropical coral reefs are among the most productive and biologically diverse ecosystems found on earth (Odum and Odum 1955; Connell 1978; Moberg and Rönnbäck 2003). Although these reefs only cover 0.1 – 0.5% of the ocean floor they provide a home to almost one third of the marine fish species and other marine biota (Mcallister 1991; Spalding and Grenfell 1997; Spalding et al. 2001). Like rainforests, their terrestrial equivalent, the three-dimensional habitat complexity underpins the biological success of coral reef systems (Connell 1978; Grigg et al. 1984; Reaka-Kudla 1997). This structural framework is primarily provided through the precipitation of vast quantities of calcium carbonate by scleractinian corals (Goreau 1959b; Goreau and Goreau 1959; Smith and Kinsey 1976). Basic growth of coral skeleton forms the fundament of the reef and facilitates complex ecosystem functioning and niche partitioning to harbour an exceptional heterogeneity of associated biota (Connell 1978; Graham and Nash 2012; Kennedy et al. 2013; Newman et al. 2015). Ancillary to the inexpressible biological value, millions of people worldwide rely in some way on the services provided by coral reefs, most notably for nourishment, but also for services associated with tourism and coastal protection (Costanza et al. 1997; Moberg and Folke 1999; Moberg and Rönnbäck 2003). By increasing frictional dissipation of wave energy, the complex physical structure created by corals protects coastal shorelines from erosion. This has allowed humans to settle and develop coastal areas throughout the tropics. Yet, coral reefs are at present ubiquitously under pressure due to a variety of stressors associated with increased anthropogenic activity on a global and local scale.

The marine environment is continuously exposed to change, but currently this change is more and more the result of human actions (Harvell et al. 1999; Derraik 2002; Orr et al. 2005; HoeghGuldberg and Bruno 2010). The stress exerted by the natural and anthropogenic induced changing global environment works in synergy with stressors that act on a finer spatial scale. Factors such as the overharvesting of fish, pollution, eutrophication, coastal development and the introduction of invasive species can locally trigger shifts in community composition and trophic hierarchy (Hughes 1994; Hughes et al. 2003; Pandolfi et al. 2003; Hughes et al. 2007; Hughes et al. 2017). By destabilising ecosystem functioning and interactions between key species, these stressors reduce reef resilience and therewith the capacity of coral reefs to cope with globally induced sea surface temperature anomalies or ocean acidification (Pandolfi et al. 2003; Bellwood et al. 2004; Hughes et al. 2017). Reefs in the wider Caribbean region seem particularly vulnerable to anthropogenic impact (Jackson et al. 2014). By large this can be ascribed to increased local pressures associated with the unprecedented human population expansion in the region. Since the 1950s, the total population in the Caribbean has more than doubled (United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population, Division, 2015). Natural biological and hydrological conditions are also less favourable compared to, for instance, the Indo-Pacific region (Roff and Mumby 2012). Biological diversity in the IndoPacific exceeds 10-fold the diversity found in the Caribbean (Spalding et al. 2001; Hoeksema et al. 2017), implying limited functional redundancy in the latter (Bellwood et al. 2003; Bellwood et al. 2004; Jackson et al. 2014). In addition, the quality of Caribbean surface water is significantly impacted by discharge from major South-American rivers like the Amazon and Orinoco as well as the North-American Mississippi river. The residence time of the polluted and eutrophic water from these rivers, combined with run-off and sewage water from the numerous islands is relatively long in the Caribbean Sea due to its distinct basin-like morphological and hydrological features (Roff and Mumby 2012). As a consequence of the rapid anthropogenic alteration of the marine environment we now see an ecological degradation of Caribbean coral reef habitats that has not occurred for over 200.000 years (Pandolfi and Jackson 2006).

Date
2019
Data type
Research report
Theme
Research and monitoring
Report number
Thesis
Geographic location
Bonaire
Curacao

Chapter 12. Status and trends of coral reefs of the Caribbean region

Regional Context:

The Caribbean Region represents only 1% of Earth’s marine surface but hosts 10% of the world’s coral reefs, including fringing reefs, which are most common, barrier reefs such as the Mesoamerican Reef, which is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, bank reefs, patch reefs, and a few atolls.

Caribbean shallow and mesophotic reefs are characterized by relatively low coral species diversity (70 hard coral species including two Acroporid species: Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis) and high levels of endemism, making them unique among the world’s reefs.

The physical geography of the Caribbean region is also complex with continental coasts (north, central, and south America), large continental islands (Greater Antilles), numerous small sandy islands (The Bahamas), volcanic islands (most of the Lesser Antilles), and coral islands (some Lesser Antilles islands).

The Caribbean is politically and culturally diverse with 30 sovereign states (continental and insular) and 16 European overseas territories or outermost regions (British, Dutch, and French), and considerable economic disparities between nations (e.g. per capita Gross Domestic Product in the USA was USD63,544 compared with less than USD1,200 in Haïti)1 .

About 70% of people in the Caribbean live near the coast. Indeed, Caribbean economies depend heavily on coral reefs and associated ecosystems (seagrasses and mangroves) for recreation and tourism (e.g., sandy beaches, snorkeling, and SCUBA diving), livelihoods, food (e.g., fishes, queen conch, lobsters), and other social, cultural, and economic benefits. Socio-economic monitoring (SocMon) in the Caribbean region, carried out largely according to the GCRMN SocMon protocol, is in use as an approach for coral reef managers and provides valuable insights on how coastal communities value and depend on coral reefs. Thus, SocoMon assessments have been conducted for almost 20 years in the region, including a series of workshops conducted recently beginning in 2016 (Jamaica) to the most recent in 2019 (MesoAmerica) by SPAW-RAC and supported by a NFWF-funded project to develop and refine a set of integrated coral reef monitoring guidelines that explicitly include human dimensions characteristics. For a detailed analysis of the SocMon Caribbean socio-economic assessments, please see the Global SocMon report that is forthcoming in 2022.

Socio-economic monitoring is important in order to understand the human interactions with coral ecosystems so that we can mitigate negative effects to coral reefs while promoting positive benefits that reefs provide [http://socmon.icriforum.org/]. SocMon has been part of the wider GCRMN effort since 1997 and was developed with the intent for socio-economic monitoring to complement biophysical monitoring. While SocMon data are not included in the present analysis, future work should and will seek to integrate Caribbean node socio-economic data with biophysical data.

The Caribbean is divided into 10 Marine Ecoregions of the World (MEOW) Ecoregions2 that were grouped into five subregions for the analyses underpinning this report (Tab. 1). There are coral reef marine protected areas (MPAs) in many countries in the Caribbean, as well as MPA networks such as MPAConnect and CaMPAM. The MPAs are usually small and generally located in nearshore areas. Efforts to support coral monitoring and capacity-building are underway with support from partner organisations such as the UN Environment Programme/ Cartagena Convention Secretariat, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (United States of America), the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife protocol and its regional activity center (SPAWRAC), through regional projects and via multi-national programmes. MPA financing, enforcement, fisheries management, monitoring and communications are among the top management capacity building needs identified by coral reef managers to implement effective marine protection.

Date
2022
Data type
Research report
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Aruba
Bonaire
Curacao
Saba
Saba bank
St. Eustatius
St. Maarten

Systematic investigation of the coral-inclusive potential of marine infrastructure

Abstract

Ecosystems are under pressure worldwide, due to both natural and anthropogenic stresses. Stresses on ecosystems can cause a decline in biodiversity, a loss of habitat and a deterioration in ecosystem services. To avoid further pressure on ecosystems caused by advancing economic development, new infrastructure projects should be integrated into the ecosystem. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are now mandatory for projects that are likely to have significant environmental effects. EIAs have primarily focused on mitigating negative impacts. However, recently new design philosophies have emerged such as ‘Engineering with Nature’, ‘Working with Nature’ and ‘Building with Nature’ which also focus on promoting positive impacts.

Constructively realizing nature-inclusive projects is complicated due to involving stakeholders with differing perspectives. Therefore, in an integrated approach towards new marine infrastructure development, the next step is to promote constructive collaboration between stakeholders to systematically investigate the nature-inclusive potential of infrastructure. This thesis describes a proposed strategy for doing so, within the context of nearshore infrastructure development located in or nearby coral ecosystems. The focus is on how nature-inclusive potential of new marine infrastructure might be maximised, taking into account the local ecosystem.

The aim of this research is to find an optimal approach to develop coral-inclusive infrastructure. This is done by structuring the required discussions between stakeholders considering socio-economic, ecological and engineering perspectives regarding the nature-inclusive design potential of new marine infrastructure. For this purpose, a method was developed that proposes a step-by-step strategy to promote constructive collaboration between relevant stakeholders, consisting of the following five steps:

1. project description, outlining the basic challenge at hand

2. project location analysis, involving a systematic assessment of the relevant ’natural system’ as well as the ’anthropogenic system’

3. Development of marine infrastructure design applications, involving an inventory of project elements that can have negative or positive effects on the overall ecosystem

4. inventory and ranking of potential measures, objectively outlining feasibility and potential effectiveness of measures and design modifications

5. summary of sustainable design recommendations, leading to a systematic ranking of potential measures proposed to support further decision making.

 

We have investigated the effectiveness of the systematic method, by applying it to a case study in Sint Eustatius that investigates whether the intended extension of a breakwater in Sint Eustatius can be designed as a coral-inclusive project. Sint Eustatius was chosen because Rijkswaterstaat offered research opportunities on location. In an ideal case, the use of long-term consistent data maps the natural factors over a longer period of time. This provides greater certainty of results and recommended actions. However, the values that were reported for the Sint Eustatius case were not derived from long term systematic data collection. Furthermore, the substrate from the existing breakwater looks to be promising for coral recruitment. However, there is not a lot of coral development evident on the existing breakwater. Possible negative factors hindering coral development on the existing breakwater are: 1) poor water quality; 2) high hydrodynamic circumstances with high wave action in shallow waters which limits the type of coral species; 3) inconsistent larval supply through ocean currents.

Coral reef connectivity seems sufficient and potential substrate is already present in the existing breakwater. Extension of the breakwater will lead to substrate increase which could improve the chance for coral recruitment in a hurricane-risk area as Sint Eustatius. A valid next step that could be proposed to aid a better understanding of this habitat is to invest in an extensive and dedicated data gathering campaign.

In conclusion, the main improvements derived from the application of the systematic approach for nature-inclusive potential for infrastructure projects are:

• providing an overview of the steps required to create coral-inclusive infrastructure,

• instigating the investigation of the status or the possibilities for coral development,

• assisting ecologists and engineers to structure the discussion on coral-inclusiveness,

• lowering the barrier to use (new) design philosophies,

• and stimulating coral development and decreasing negative effects by providing design recommendations.

Bringing stakeholders with different perspectives together in one nature-inclusive project plan remains challenging. Environmental data can play a role in arriving at a realistic approach supported by ecologists and civil engineers to realize nature-inclusivity for infrastructure. This requires knowledge, money and time and could provide insight into the threats and opportunities. The systematic approach, derived in this thesis, has been proven to support stakeholders in assessing the nature-inclusive potential of marine infrastructure.

Date
2022
Data type
Other resources
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
St. Eustatius

Close encounters of the worst kind: reforms needed to curb coral reef damage by recreational divers

Abstract

Intentional and unintentional physical contact between scuba divers and the seabed is made by most divers and multiple times per dive, which often results in damage to corals and other marine life. Current efforts to reduce reef contacts (e.g., voluntary dive operator recognition programs and voluntary dive standards) can be effective, but lack sufficient incentive structures for longterm compliance. In their current capacity, these programs fail to reduce reef contacts to tolerable levels. Regulatory policies can facilitate pervasive and permanent shifts in human behavior, but have been underutilized to change unsustainable underwater norms. Most coral reefs open to recreational diving lie within territorial waters of individual countries, and many already have existing forms of protection with legislation that can be easily modified. Successful policy precedents in Marine Protected Areas (e.g., bans on underwater glove use) and elsewhere (e.g., antismoking laws in public spaces and legislation enforcing seat belt use) demonstrate the largely untapped potential of using effective governance to change destructive diving norms for good. To reduce intentional reef contacts, policy-makers can enact regulations in MPAs directly banning all contact between divers and the seabed. To reduce unintentional contacts, policy-makers can create policy safeguards that preempt such occurrences (e.g., requiring divers to keep a certain distance from the seabed). Crucially, such policies will need accompanying formal and informal enforcement measures that are equitable, effective, and efficient to motivate compliance and effect lasting behavior change. Having a robust, well-enforced, regulatory framework to tackle both types of reef contacts lends credence to the efforts of existing conservation programs, and is key to permanently changing divers’ underwater attitudes and fostering sustainable scuba diving behavior to the benefit of all.

Date
2021
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Journal
Geographic location
Aruba
Bonaire
Curacao
Saba
Saba bank
St. Eustatius
St. Maarten
Author

Implications of 2D versus 3D surveys to measure the abundance and composition of benthic coral reef communities

Abstract

A paramount challenge in coral reef ecology is to estimate the abundance and composition of the communities residing in such complex ecosystems. Traditional 2D projected surface cover estimates neglect the 3D structure of reefs and reef organisms, overlook communities residing in cryptic reef habitats (e.g., overhangs, cavities), and thus may fail to represent biomass estimates needed to assess trophic ecology and reef function. Here, we surveyed the 3D surface cover, biovolume, and biomass (i.e., ash-free dry weight) of all major benthic taxa on 12 coral reef stations on the island of Curaçao (Southern Caribbean) using structure-from-motion photogrammetry, coral point counts, in situ measurements, and elemental analysis. We then compared our 3D benthic community estimates to corresponding estimates of traditional 2D projected surface cover to explore the differences in benthic community composition using different metrics. Overall, 2D cover was dominated (52 ± 2%, mean ± SE) by non-calcifying phototrophs (macroalgae, turf algae, benthic cyanobacterial mats), but their contribution to total reef biomass was minor (3.2 ± 0.6%). In contrast, coral cover (32 ± 2%) more closely resembled coral biomass (27 ± 6%). The relative contribution of erect organisms, such as gorgonians and massive sponges, to 2D cover was twofold and 11-fold lower, respectively, than their contribution to reef biomass. Cryptic surface area (3.3 ± 0.2 m2 m−2planar reef) comprised half of the total reef substrate, rendering two thirds of coralline algae and almost all encrusting sponges (99.8%) undetected in traditional assessments. Yet, encrusting sponges dominated reef biomass (35 ± 18%). Based on our quantification of exposed and cryptic reef communities using different metrics, we suggest adjustments to current monitoring approaches and highlight ramifications for evaluating the ecological contributions of different taxa to overall reef function. To this end, our metric conversions can complement other benthic assessments to generate non-invasive estimates of the biovolume, biomass, and elemental composition (i.e., standing stocks of organic carbon and nitrogen) of Caribbean coral reef communities.

Date
2021
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Journal
Geographic location
Curacao

Achteruitgang koraalriffen Caribisch Nederland: oorzaken en mogelijke oplossingen voor koraalherstel

Koraalriffen zijn de belangrijkste economische hulpbron voor de eilanden van Caribisch Nederland. Zij verkeren in een slechte toestand en zonder actief ingrijpen zullen zij binnen afzienbare tijd verdwijnen. Het is meer dan ooit duidelijk dat de gevolgen van klimaatverandering onafwendbaar op ons afkomen. Dit zal leiden tot meer stress voor de omgeving waarin mensen leven en waarvan ze afhankelijk zijn. Voor de toekomst van Bonaire, Saba en St. Eustatius is het noodzakelijk om een gemeenschappelijke milieu- en natuurvisie te ontwikkelen, daadkrachtig besluiten te nemen en op korte termijn te beginnen met de uitvoering zodat de veerkracht van de natuur van Caribisch Nederland weer omhoog gaat en beter bestand zal zijn tegen de gevolgen van klimaatverandering. De komende 10 jaar zijn cruciaal wil men het tij nog keren. Door nieuw beleid kan de economie omgebogen worden in de richting van een duurzame toekomst waarbij banen behouden worden en negatieve effecten van globale en regionale veranderingen zoveel mogelijk kunnen worden opgevangen door veerkrachtige ecosystemen te realiseren. Dit kan door lokale stressfactoren zoveel mogelijk te minimaliseren. In dit rapport proberen we handvatten aan te reiken voor de ontwikkeling van deze visie en geven we mogelijke oplossingsrichtingen aan gebaseerd op de huidige stand van de wetenschap ten aanzien van duurzaam beheer van koraalrifecosystemen.

 

 

Date
2019
Data type
Research report
Report number
C061/19
Geographic location
Bonaire
Saba
St. Eustatius

Papers Ecology Conference on Flamingos, Oil Pollution and Reefs, Bonaire, 1975

Contents

Introduction - by the Editors.
Address - by M. A. POURIER, Minister of Economic Development.
Address- by Mr. A. R. W. SINT JAGO, Lieutenant Governor of Bonaire.
Illuminated Address to Mr. L. D. GERHARTS- by Mr. J. A. CONNELL, President Caribbean Conservation Association.

I.            FLAMINGOES

J. Rooth: Ecological aspects of the flamingos on Bonaire. Resumen: Aspectos ecológicos de los flamencos en Bonaire.
A. Sprunt: A new Colombian site for the American flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber).
B. de Boer & J. Rooth: Notes on a visit to Chichiriviche (Venezuela).
I. Kristensen: Discussion on flamingo problems.
 

II.           0IL POLLUTION

J. H. B. W. Elgershuizen & H. A. M. de Kruijf: abstract: Toxic effects of crude oils and dispersant to the stony coral Madracis mirabilis,
J. H. B. W. Elgershuizen, R. P. M. Bak & I. Kristensen: abstract: Oil sediment removal in corals.
H. S. George: Position-determination of oil pollution by aerial photographs and its interpretation.
L. T. Giulini: La contaminación del ambiente marino por los hidrocarburos. Abstract: Marine pollution by oil.
G. P. Canevari: Some remarks regarding the utility and mechanisms of chemical dispersants.
 

III.          REEFS

J. L. Hunt & J. Araud: Coral distribution in the Bahia de Patanemo, Venezuela.
H. G. Gamiochipi: Parques submarinos en el Caribe Mexicano.
C. Noome & I. Kristensen: abstract: Necessity of conservation of slow growing organisms like Black Coral. Resumen: Necesidad de medidas conservacionistas con respecto a organismos de lento crecimiento tales como el Coral Negro.
A. Corsten, I. Corsten-Hulsmans & H. A. M. de Kruijf: abstract: Recolonization experiments of the coral reef fish Gramma Ioreto, the Royal Gramma.
C. den Hartog: The role of seagrasses in shallow waters in the Caribbean.
E. Towle: abstract: Reef communities and human interference: a positive view.
D. Stewart: abstract: Human participation in reef communities.
 

Addresses of the authors.
List of participants.
Netherlands Antilles National Parks Foundation- information.
 

Date
1976
Data type
Other resources
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Aruba
Bonaire
Curacao

Invasive lionfish had no measurable effect on prey fish community structure across the Belizean Barrier Reef

Invasive lionfish are assumed to significantly affect Caribbean reef fish communities. However, evidence of lionfish effects on native reef fishes is based on uncontrolled observational studies or small-scale, unrepresentative experiments, with findings ranging from no effect to large effects on prey density and richness. Moreover, whether lionfish affect populations and communities of native reef fishes at larger, management- relevant scales is unknown. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of lionfish on coral reef prey fish communities in a natural complex reef system. We quantified lionfish and the density, richness, and composition of native prey fishes (0–10 cm total length) at sixteen reefs along ∼250 km of the Belize Barrier Reef from 2009 to 2013. Lionfish invaded our study sites during this four-year longitudinal study, thus our sampling included fish community structure before and after our sites were invaded, i.e., we employed a modified BACI design. We found no evidence that lionfish measurably affected the density, richness, or composition of prey fishes. It is possible that higher lionfish densities are necessary to detect an effect of lionfish on prey populations at this relatively large spatial scale. Alternatively, negative effects of lionfish on prey could be small, essentially undetectable, and ecologically insignificant at our study sites. Other factors that influence the dynamics of reef fish populations including reef complexity, resource availability, recruitment, predation, and fishing could swamp any effects of lionfish on prey populations. 

Date
2017
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Document
Journal

Reef.org

Protecting Marine Life Through Education, Service, and Research

REEF was founded in 1990, out of growing concern about the health of the marine environment, and the desire to provide the SCUBA diving community a way to contribute to the understanding and protection of marine populations. REEF achieves this goal primarily through its volunteer fish monitoring program, the REEF Fish Survey Project. Participants in the Project not only learn about the environment they are diving in, but they also produce valuable information. Scientists, marine park staff, and the general public use the data that are collected by REEF volunteers.

Mission

REEF conserves marine environments worldwide. Our mission is to protect biodiversity and ocean life by actively engaging and inspiring the public through citizen science, education, and partnerships with the scientific community.

Vision

REEF envisions divers and marine enthusiasts actively engaging in marine conservation. With knowledge, training and the opportunity to get involved, these marine citizen scientists make significant and ongoing contributions through REEF’s strategic partnerships with government agencies, science and academic institutions, the non-profit sector, and local communities. Divers and snorkelers are in a unique position to observe and document the many valuable and vulnerable living marine resources. They play an important role in bringing information to the surface that adds to the knowledge base of ocean ecosystems and facilitates informed decision-making. Through REEF’s efforts, marine citizen scientists impart an ethic of stewardship to current and future generations.

Date
2017
Data type
Portal
Theme
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Aruba
Bonaire
Curacao
Saba
Saba bank
St. Eustatius
St. Maarten
Image
Reef.org

What is Bonaire’s Cruise Tourism Worth

The ecosystems of the island of Bonaire support a range of activities that depend on the quality of the natural environment. Tourism is one of these activities and it represents an important source of income for the local economy. Tourism in Bonaire can be divided in stay-over tourism and cruise tourism. Whether further development of cruise tourism is desirable for Bonaire is constantly under discussion. It is thought that more cruise tourists will contribute to economic growth. But, at the same time, there is a fear that an increase in the number of cruise tourists and the investments in infrastructure and other facilities to facilitate this growth will put extra pressure on the ecosystems. And these are the same ecosystems that are vital in attracting not only cruise tourists, but also stay-over tourists.

This study aims at providing quantitative and qualitative information on the potential benefits and negative effects of an expansion of the cruise tourism industry on Bonaire. For this purpose, a socio-economic valuation was first conducted to understand the cruise tourism industry in Bonaire. This resulted in insights that include tourist’s expenditures, the different actors on the island that benefit from these expenditures, the dependency of certain sectors on tourism related revenues and the attitude of tourists towards certain social and environmental changes in the island. This information is derived from tourist surveys, a business survey and literature review.

Second, with the information gathered, and making use of an economic Input-Output model for Bonaire that is linked to an ecologic model, three different cruise tourism growth scenarios were analysed: a baseline scenario, a moderate growth scenario and a rapid growth scenario. This analysis resulted in the calculation of economic benefits that would result from an increase in the number of cruise tourists in each scenario. At the same time, using the ecologic module that is linked to the economic Input-Output model, the socio-environmental impact on a number of natural indicators was also assessed. Certain environmental effects of cruise tourism, like waste production, water consumption and the ecologic footprint of cruise ships, could not be included in the ecologic module and were, therefore, assessed separately from the model.

The surveys conducted amongst tourists have shown the importance of maintaining a healthy reef and the tranquillity on the island. Especially stay-over tourists indicated that they are not willing to return to a more crowded island or an island with a degraded coral reef. Both the survey and the scenario analysis indicate that sectors that benefit the most from the growth of the cruise industry are the transport, restaurant, ‘other services’ (which include tour operators) and trade sectors.

The scenario analysis further indicates that an increase in cruise tourism will generate a growth in GDP within the period of the analysis (until 2024). While the economy grows as a whole, more jobs will be generated. However, given the seasonal character of cruise tourism and the sectors that benefit the most from it, most of the jobs created appear to be in lower income categories. As a result of potential population growth to fill in these new jobs, household consumption and GDP per capita do not increase as much as the GDP growth might suggest. Household consumption at the end of the analysis period (2024) is only $234 higher in the rapid growth scenario compared to the baseline scenario.

The economic growth caused by cruise tourism expansion also results in socio-environmental impacts, as higher number of visitors will increase direct pressures on the ecosystems that are visited. The main impacts that have been analysed are change in land use, decrease in coral cover, water consumption and waste generation and the potential decrease of stay-over tourists as a result of coral reef degradation and more built-up land.

However, not all potential socio-environmental impacts could be included in the scenario analysis. If cruise tourism industry is to expand even further, Bonaire must expand its infrastructure. This means that investments need to be made to accommodate larger amounts of tourists. The scenario analysis does not take into account the impact of these potential infrastructure projects like additional port infrastructure, proper waste management system, water management, more roads and more ground transportation. It was also not possible to assess the effects on the environment and the return rate of stay-over tourists caused by crowding in specific areas and on peak moments.

The results of the study demonstrate that there are external effects related to the expansion of cruise tourism. For example, a decrease in stay-over tourists as a result of rapid growth of the cruise tourism industry may have significant implications for the hotel industry. To make decisions regarding cruise tourism expansion, such external effects should be taken into account. Furthermore, investing on an environmental friendly expansion and the enforcement of environmental regulations will also be of high importance to avoid endangering the ecosystems and, thereby, the tourism industry as a whole. More research on the local impacts of cruise tourism and the effects on the stay-over sector are necessary to draw conclusions on the desirability of the expansion of cruise tourism for the island.

Date
2017
Data type
Research report
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Bonaire