Curacao National Marine Park
Since 2021 the Marine Park Department of the Carmabi Foundation is responsible for, and manages, the newly designated SPAW-area 1 at Eastpoint (Oostpunt), better known as the Curacao Marine Park.
The Importance of the Curacao Marine Park
Why is it important to protect Curacao’s marine ecosystem with a marine park?
Curacao has an opportunity today, with a Marine Park Area, to protect the fringing reefs in Curacao by limiting the damage caused in the past and to make a difference by restoring our pristine coral reefs that are some of the best in the Caribbean.
Without a Marine Park Area, the marine life that surrounds the Dutch Caribbean Island of Curacao can be in great danger including the diverse economy that it supports.
Whether it is tourism industry or the local fishing industry, the local economy (businesses, jobs and of course taxes) will falter if marine life vanishes.
By protecting marine areas, industry jobs can be protected which enables the local population to put food on the table. This, in and by itself, creates a prosperous yet sustainable outlook for the future.
Banning the use of anchors within the marine park boundaries is one example that will help preserve coral colony growth and allow damaged corals to recover more quickly.
Healthy coral colonies are especially important during coral spawning seasons because, with the help of currents, the rest of the fringing reefs along the southern coastline of Curaçao (all the way to Westpunt) also could be settled with new corals.
Therefore, the Curacao Marine Park staff are now installing specific sets of mooring buoys within the Marine Park to allow people, dive operators and fishermen alike to safely moor up, without throwing anchors that damages corals, to enjoy the park and all nature it to offer while fishing, diving, snorkeling, boating and everything in between. By doing so, this will benefit the entire island of Curacao while protecting the biodiversity of fringing reefs.
“There is an undeniable beauty about diving in Curaçao: it is the immense and natural biodiversity. Curaçao is surrounded by more than 104 sq. km (40 sq. miles) of some of the best coral reefs in the Caribbean. These healthy coral reef systems are attracting all kinds of marine life visitors and Curaçao is taking proactive steps to ensure they are protected for future generations.”
The Marine Park Rangers
The Curacao Marine Park Rangers are a team of dedicated individuals that are charged with the conservation of 217 hectares (536.207 acres) of pristine fringing reefs inside SPAW-Area 1, the protected area according to the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife protocol.
The team consists of Joël Dominguez (Marine Park Ranger), Kevin Philbert (Marine Park Ranger), Roland de Cuba (Marine Park Ranger) and Duvan Rios Ospina (Curacao Marine Park Manager).
Joël Dominguez, a Marine Park Ranger says, “I come from a military background and what I love most about this opportunity is that we have a chance to limit the damage caused by ourselves and make a difference in restoring our coral reefs around at East Point. Without this Park, the rest of our marine life can be in great danger. I’m proud to be part of a team that can make a difference by preserving the vulnerable marine life.”
Kevin Philbert, a Marine Park Ranger says, “I am 26 years old, and I used to be a fisherman. Currently I am a marine park ranger at Carmabi. Maybe my favorite aspect of my job is that I get to be underwater diving, snorkeling and snorkeling and working to protect our reefs and ecosystem for future generations.
Duvan Rios Ospina, the head of the Curacao Marine Park department says, “I used to work at the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard as the Deputy Commander. My job is to work together with all the stakeholders and visitors to restore the productivity and avoid further degradation of the marine park. I always like to protect the marine ecosystem. I did it when I worked at Stinapa in Bonaire, the Coast Guard and now at the Carmabi Foundation. Together with you will help preserve our fringing reefs and to keep our waters healthy.”
Recent Marine Park News
Recent achievements also extend beneath the water, when in November 2020, the Curacao Marine Park was officially opened by DCNA’s Patron Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix. In addition, Curaçao’s Marine Park announced that on March 7th, 2022, they had their first patrol with their new boat, Yaru, which will serve to promote safe and sustainable use within the park for many years to come.
It is also planned to locate the Proteus Underwater Research Station within the boundaries of the Curacao National Marine Park. This station will allow scientists to live and conduct research directly from the ocean floor. PROTEUS™ is a project of the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center (FCOLC) and is Fabien Cousteau’s vision.
There have also been a number of critical research studies conducted around the island. Coral trends, although in general decline, have noted some locally focused rapid regrowth since 2014. This is a beacon of hope for coral restoration and conservation on the island. Improved models of the coastline and groundwater will further improve information available to land area managers for future projects.
CARMABI noted that there is still a number of areas in which research is needed. In 2022, they will continue to investigate forest plots in the Christoffel National Park. CARMABI emphasizes the need to focus on native plants and continuously increases efforts in the in-house native plant nursery to research these species and educate the general public on the importance of native plants.
In addition, as wetlands continue to gain recognition for their importance, both in environmental services as well as building resilience against climate change, CARMABI stressed the importance of further research within local mangrove forested areas including the new Curacao Rif Mangrove Park.