Volume 72

Striving for a Blue Destination – Finding Common Ground

Eckrich, C.
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Date: November, 2019

Pages: 75-76

Event: Proceedings of the Seventy-Two Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Punta Cana

Country: Dominican Republic


Bonaire is a Dutch Caribbean island whose economy is driven by dive tourism. For 40 years, the Bonaire National Marine Park has actively managed its coral reefs and has developed strong partnerships with the dive industry: they are its eyes and ears on the water and are responsible for collecting the nature fees that finance the park. Strengthening this partnership are initiatives that have evolved in which coral reef conservation activities are only permitted via the dive industry, such as lionfish hunting and coral restoration specialties. Also, in a joint effort to salvage 1000s of sponges during a pier renovation project at a popular dive site, Salt Pier, STINAPA partnered with Cargill and Dive Friends to develop volunteer and guided dive programs to transplant sponges that would have perished. Furthermore, STINAPA is partnering with the dive industry to develop guided data collection dives to document coral disease and bleaching prevalence. As our island works towards defining and achieving the status of a Blue Destination, partnerships and close communications, especially between STINAPA and the local government, are necessary to ensure sustainable development. One such project in 2018 was the renovation of several commercial piers in Kralendijk: the government, contractors and stakeholders met frequently, a budget for nature conservation was approved, measures were taken to protect marine life, and the pier was renovated with as little impact to the marine environment as possible. STINAPA also partnered with fishermen in its BRUV shark monitoring project. Achieving Blue Destination status, going forward sustainably, means different things for different people. With fishermen, the government and private companies, STINAPA is finding common ground in which to bridge the gap and achieve sustainable solutions.

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