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Blue Marine Foundation launches new Dutch Caribbean Partnership

Blue Marine Foundation launches new partnership with Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance

Ocean conservation charity, Blue Marine Foundation, makes initial grant to marine parks on six Dutch Caribbean islands. Award will fund projects including coral protection, and training youth marine rangers.

The ocean conservation charity announced it is awarding $90,000 in funding to support marine conservation in the Dutch Caribbean. A range of projects run by protected area management organizations on six islands will each receive a grant of $15,000. The funding is the first step in a longer-term partnership to support the islands and help secure sustainable financing through the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) Trust fund.

Blue Marine to help improve Ocean Governance

To improve ocean governance, Blue Marine uses a combination of top-down intervention and bottom-up project delivery to help local communities at the front line of conservation. It will work together with the DCNA to help marine-park organisations protect the unique and threatened biodiversity of the Dutch Caribbean.

The new partnership is an important development in the successful management of marine conservation parks in the Dutch Caribbean. The UK-based charity has established a small-grants fund to provide rapid access to support for critical conservation projects run by marine parks.

The individual projects and their local partners are:

Aruba: monitoring water quality in its Marine Protected Area (MPA) and wetlands, in conjunction with Fundacion Parke Nacional Aruba (FPNA)

Bonaire: assessing losses of stony corals (Acroporids e.g. staghorn and elkhorn coral), and their potential future recovery, in conjunction with Stichting Nationale Parken Bonaire (STINAPA Bonaire)

Curaçao: establishing a bus transport marine education program and youth marine ranger program, in conjunction with Caribbean Research and Management of Biodiversity (CARMABI)

Saba: provision of a climate control room for the new marine field station, in conjunction with the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF).

Blue Marine Foundation partners with DCNA | Dive News Curacao
Photo credit Naturepics Y.+T. Kuhnast-all rights reserved

Sint Eustatius: assessing the health of coral, the abundance of fish life and the diversity of reefs, in conjunction with St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA)

St Maarten: monitoring marine habitats, in conjunction with Nature Foundation St. Maarten(NFSXM)

Unique ecosystems on the islands are vulnerable

Unique ecosystems on the islands are vulnerable to threats such as feral livestock causing sedimentation on reefs, and invasive species, including lionfish and coral diseases. They are also at risk from overfishing, climate change, coastal development, erosion and the build-up of harmful algae caused by waste water.

The islands of the Dutch Caribbean are also home to important “blue carbon” habitats – ocean ecosystems such as seagrasses, mangroves and other marine plants that suck up and lock away carbon from the earth’s atmosphere. Seagrass is so efficient at this it can capture and store carbon dioxide up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests.The management and protection of these blue carbon habitats is vital in the fight against climate change.

Current marine conservation measures in the islands include a 25,390 square km mammal and shark sanctuary- Yarari sanctuary- across the Exclusive Economic Zone of Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius. All six islands have inshore Marine Protected Areas ranging in size from 10 to 60 sq km.

Blue Marine comments

“Having recently visited two of the islands, I witnessed first-hand how special this region is. Diving the waters off Saba I saw huge Tarpon swimming amongst shoals of blue tang, and hawksbill turtles feeding on the seagrass beds. I also witnessed the challenges these islands are facing from coral disease to issues with coastal development. It is an exciting opportunity to work in the Dutch Caribbean, bringing expertise and funding from Blue Marine to join with the wealth of knowledge already on the islands, to work together to protect the important marine life arounds these islands.” says, Jude Brown, Blue Marine’s Senior Project Manager

DCNA comments

“The Dutch Caribbean consists of the Windward Islands of St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius and the Leeward Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. The nature of the Dutch Caribbean contains the richest biodiversity in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The diverse ecosystems are a magnet for tourism and at the same time the most important source of income for residents of the Dutch Caribbean. Nature on the islands is unique and important but it is also fragile. The coming week we will be in The Netherlands to present a Climate Action Plan for the Dutch Caribbean to emphasize the urgent need for a climate smart future for our islands.” says, Tadzio Bervoets, Director of the DNCA

About the Blue Marine Foundation

Blue Marine Foundation is dedicated to restoring the ocean to health by tackling overfishing, one of the world’s biggest environmental problems.

This dynamic charity is working all over the world to protect huge areas of ocean and restore marine biodiversity. In the coming decade Blue Marine aims to see at least 30 per cent of the ocean protected, and the other 70 per cent sustainably managed.

About the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance

The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance is a nonprofit organization created to safeguard nature in the Dutch Caribbean through supporting Protected Area Management Organizations.

The Dutch Caribbean consists of the Windward Islands of St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius and the Leeward Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. The pristine nature of the Dutch Caribbean contains the richest biodiversity in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The diverse ecosystems are a magnet for tourism and at the same time the most important source of income for residents of the Dutch Caribbean. Nature on the islands is unique and important but it is also fragile.

The lack of sustainable funding, policy support and adequate spatial planning pose the most significant threats.

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