The Bonaire National Marine Park was established in 1979. The marine park protects 2,700 hectares of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove forests. Seventy-five IUCN Red List critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable species, and 15 CITES Appendix I species, are recorded in the marine park. The marine park includes two Ramsar sites: Lac Bay (the largest semi-enclosed bay in the Dutch Caribbean) and Klein Bonaire (an uninhabited satellite island located approximately 700 m offshore). Bonaire’s coral reefs are considered some of the healthiest in the Caribbean.
The marine park forms the cornerstone of the island economy. Bonaire is consistently ranked in the top five diving destinations in the Caribbean. Year-round trade winds increasingly attract wind- and kitesurf enthusiasts. Nature-based tourism is the largest economic sector on the island accounting for over 38% of the economy and more than half of all jobs.
But success comes at a price. The pace of economic growth since the constitutional change in 2010 has been unprecedented. Rapid population growth and increasing number of tourists are driving land conversion and coastal development. The pressure on the Bonaire National Marine Park has never been greater, and the task of balancing economic development with nature conservation never more acute.
The management plan provides specific recommendations for the period 2022-2028, centered around six conservation strategies:
1. Optimize protection of key habitats and species.
2. Improve sustainable recreation.
3. Encourage sustainable fishing.
4. Control invasive species and disease.
5. Support restoration of key habitats and species.
6. Influence policy and legislation to improve park management.
This management plan was developed in close co-operation with local stakeholders. The plan is organized in eight chapters. This document also serves as the management plan for the Ramsar sites Lac Bay and Klein Bonaire.