Bonaire has a long history of marine preservation, beginning with turtle protection in 1961, prohibition of spear fishing in 1971 and protection of coral, dead or alive, in 1975. In 1978 & 1980, the park instituted a permanent mooring system - first in the world - for boats to moor instead of dropping anchors.
The driving forces behind the creation of a Marine Park on Bonaire included Bonaire devotees Captain Don Stewart and Carel Steensma and The Netherlands Antilles National Parks Foundation. Carel Steensma was a personal friend of HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Chairman of the World Wildlife Fund at the time. The project of the BNMP started in 1979, with funding from World Wildlife Fund Netherlands, the Dutch Government, the Government of the Netherlands Antilles, and the Island Government of Bonaire.