New shark reserve launched on Bonaire
It was a great way to end Bonaire’s first Shark Week, when State Secretary Dijksma of Economic Affairs opened a shark and marine mammal sanctuary during her recent visit to Bonaire and Saba. Shark populations are plummeting worldwide and therefore need extra protection against illegal fishing and the bycatch of regular fisheries. The local nature and fisheries organizations are involved in this protection and The Netherlands will actively protect sharks in the Caribbean Sea with the world’s eleventh shark reserve.
“This special reserve will ensure the conservation of the animals in the waters surrounding Saba and Bonaire. Sharks are not only important for tourism but also for fishery. When there are more sharks, there also are more fish – contrary to what one would expect,” stated State Secretary Dijksma, who stated further, “The reserve will work closely with local nature and fisheries organizations to protect sea mammals and sharks.”
Proponents of shark reserves in Dutch Caribbean waters are happy that the governments of both Bonaire and Saba, along with the government of the European Netherlands see the importance of this issue and the beneficial effect the reserve can have for the islands and the region as a whole.
Research by Imares has shown that a decrease in sharks as apex predators leads to a disturbed natural balance in the sea. This could have consequences for the total fishery stock.
A good fishery stock is also important for the fishermen on the islands, who are dependent on fishing. Tourism also benefits from coral reefs with sharks.