The St. Eustatius Marine Park was created in 1996 and extends around the entire island from the high water line to 30m depth contour. St. Eustatius lies in the North Eastern Caribbean (17o 49’N, 62o 98’W) within the Lesser Antilles island group. The island is volcanic, and ancient weathered volcanic cones dominate the landscape including The Quill (600m) in the South and Boven (289m) in the North West. St. Eustatius 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 St. Eustatius and is protected by the Marine Environment Ordinance which was passed in 1996. For issues related to international treaties, threatened and endangered species, migratory species and marine pollution the Central Government Department of Nature and the Environment (MINA) also has jurisdiction.
The St. Eustatius Marine Park covers an area of 27.5 km2 and protects a variety of habitats, including pristine coral reefs (drop off walls, volcanic ‘fingers’ and ‘bombs’, spur and groove systems), 18th century shipwrecks and modern-day artificial reefs to promote fishing and dive tourism (including a 100m cable-laying ship). Within the Park are two actively-managed Reserves in which no fishing or anchoring is permitted to conserve marine biodiversity, protect fish stocks and promote sustainable tourism. In addition to regular mooring maintenance (dive, snorkel and yacht sites), patrols and research, the Marine Park works closely with three local dive centres to ensure that diving practices minimise impact on the reef. Statia’s marine environment is a home, migratory stop over or breeding site for 4 IUCN Red List Species, 10 CITES Appendix I species and 98 Appendix II species.
The Marine Park is managed by a local non governmental, not for profit foundation (‘stichting’} called St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA) incorporated in the Netherlands Antilles on 21st November 1988 and first registered with the St Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the 28th August 1995 (registration #80371). STENAPA has a co-management structure with stakeholders, conservationists and other interested parties on the board. The management of the marine park is carried out by the Parks Manager and the park rangers. Two office administrators also work on the marine park administration and organisation and an education and outreach officer is shared with the nearby Dutch Caribbean islands of Saba and St. Maarten.
The mission of the marine park is to manage and conserve natural, cultural and historical marine resources of St. Eustatius for sustainable use with continued stakeholder participation, for the benefit of current and future generations.
This is the second management plan for the St. Eustatius Marine Park. The first management plan was written in 1997 by The CARMABI Foundation and Marine and Coastal Resource Management Saba with financial support from the KNAP fund. The rapid development of the Marine Park and the successes in management have highlighted the need for a strategic document to consolidate management decision making and to define the mission, goals and objectives of the park.
Management planning and a clear strategy for management is a prerequisite if the park is going to begin monitoring its own effectiveness.
Extensive stakeholder consultation identified key external and management issues which need to be addressed within the timeframe of this management plan:
- Artisanal fishing
- Commercial shipping
- Sustainable financing
- Stakeholder owne rship
- Presence and enforcement
This document has been prepared in close consultation with STENAPA, their management and staff and a considerable number of stakeholders and stakeholder group representatives. The plan specifies management goals and strategies for the St. Eustatius Marine Park related to the park’s mission and goals. It also identifies the major existing and potential threats and issues facing the park from ecological, social and cultural perspectives. It is designed to provide a framework for developing transparent adaptive management processes.