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Stop Illegal Coral Restoration in Curaçao

It’s Time to Protect What We Love in Curacao

Illegal Coral Restoration in Curacao | Dive News Curaçao
Reef Restoration Team Curaçao works with Staghorn, Sponges and Gorgonians

With that in mind, plus knowing that there are well established and LEGAL CORAL RESTORATION projects existing in Curaçao with years of proper data and experience, such as SECORE International and Coral Restoration Curaçao

WHY does Minister Steven Martina from the Ministry of Economic Development visit this illegal coral restoration project?

“Today we had the Minister of Economic Affairs “Steven Martina” at Tugboat Beach. Especially for the better nursery and to give his thoughts about tourism, sustainability and the Eco way.”

“He even changed his clothes for the swimming suit and went snorkeling to the nursery. He wanted to see it all, nursery outplant of corals and the replant of sponges. He was really happy about this public initiative of me and CURious 2 DIVE.” Source:  Facebook post by Hans Pleij

Change is Coming in Curacao – But Reaction is Slow

Currently, the Government of Curaçao is in the process of formalizing a protocol, for propagation and out-planting, where it can take place under certain strict conditions and a government license.

However, in the meantime the Government will have to determine how they can be equipped to operate underwater in case of a report of an alleged criminal offense!  Mr. Martina has now witnessed this illegal initiative first-hand.

Illegal Coral Restoration in Curacao | Dive News Curaçao
Curaçao's Minister of Economic Development, Mr. Steven Martina at Tugboat Beach.

About CURious 2 Dive and CASHA

The Curaçao Apartments and Small Hotels Association (CASHA) clearly acknowledges via their website that CURious 2 Dive, as a CASHA member, is “fully compliant with our quality mark requirements”.

Interestingly, “CASHA members must be in full compliance with Curaçao’s local laws and regulations to qualify for membership.”

According to CASHA’s website: “We partner with specialist institutions to carry out annual safety and quality inspections and reviews on all of our members. All CASHA members must, at a minimum, maintain the established quality and safety standards, but also actively work to improve them.

Stop Illegal Coral Restoration and Protect What We Love in Curaçao

Mr. Miles Mercera, the former President and CEO of CHATA (Curaçao Hospitality and Tourism Association) once said, “the contribution of the diving and snorkeling industry to our economy is huge: We have to take advantage of all the opportunities that this industry has to offer. We propose to promote Curaçao as a diving destination as well. There are still many people who are not aware of the undersea splendor of our island. CHATA wants to emphasize the efforts and contribution of the dive operators to our economy. It is important to protect the dive sites and to ensure a sustainable growth of this industry. The same way the operators take part in certification programs to raise their service level, CHATA urges the government to come up with initiatives and legislation that would change and strengthen the position of the dive operators. As the recent studies have shown, the contribution of the Curaçao Dive Industry to the Curaçao economy is of great value.”

Economic Value of Coral Reefs

With that being said, the 104 square kilometers of extremely bio-diverse coral reef systems that surround the island of Curacao are of immense economic importance.  Globally, coral reefs provide $375 billion USD in goods and services including $130 billion USD in coastal tourism. Yet, the estimated total investment in coral reef management and conservation is approx. $350 million USD worldwide. That means that for every $100 US dollars that the tourism industry generates in coastal areas, only about $0.27 US dollars goes toward marine protected areas management and conservation.

Protect What We Love

However, without proper training and scientific supervision, illegal coral restoration initiatives such as Hans Pleij’s project – despite their positive intentions – are detrimental to the environment and set a dangerous precedent for others to follow that includes local / international recognition.

Left unchecked, these illegal activities can severely damage the good reputations of legitimate coral restoration organizations, create an inability to generate long-term funding opportunities and cast doubt into the global community about Curaçao’s commitment for their long-term sustainable development and tourism goals.

Illegal Coral Restoration in Curacao | Dive News Curaçao
Protect What We Love - There is NO PLAN B!

Special thanks to Naturepicsfilms for this epic bait ball picture – underlining the feeling of nature!

Simply, the time for blatant cowboy behavior needs to come to an end. The attitude of “apologizing after the fact, rather than seeking permission in the first place” must stop if we want to protect what we love for the future of our island.

Do it right, or do not do it at all.

Dive Travel Curacao | Curacao Diving Vacation Specials
1% of Dive Travel Curaçao’s net annual proceeds are donated to Coral Restoration Curaçao so they can re-invest it in restoring corals for the future of Curaçao

Article pictures by Han Pleij at CURious 2 Dive via Facebook

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