Twenty-five years ago STCB began monitoring the status of, and threats to, Bonaire’s sea turtles, using the resulting knowledge to protect them. Comprehensive local laws, as well as international treaties, now protect sea turtles, their nests and their eggs from harvest and harassment.
On Bonaire the community and tourism industry generally understand the importance of sea turtles to a healthy ecosystem. They also appreciate their value to an economy centered on dive tourism and it is a rare resident or guest who is not captivated by encounters with these beautiful and threatened species. However in recent times the conservation landscape has changed. Today the most serious threats to Bonaire’s sea turtles are not direct threats like poaching or lack of support for sea turtle protection. Now the main threats are indirect; these threats are posed by a growing population and socio-economic approaches that lead to habitat loss and degradation, nutrient overload and other forms of pollution, over-exploitation (unsustainable use), and the introduction of invasive alien species.
In this landscape we no longer look at sea turtle conservation as a thing apart from society. To ensure a secure future for Bonaire’s sea turtles we must address the issues that threaten sea turtles, biodiversity and social well-being, because they are inter-related. Sea turtles can thrive only when their ecosystems are healthy and the human community thrives.
To achieve our main mission, protecting Bonaire’s endangered sea turtles, advocacy remains one of our strategic goals. As an organization we are a proactive and strategic advocate for social and economic activities, policies and legislation that prioritize the protection of Bonaire’s sea turtles and the value of biodiversity. To adhere to our strategic goal, we have established an Advocacy Committee and an Annual Advocacy Plan, which identifies advocacy targets for the next year(s) addressing the protection of Bonaire’s sea turtles and the value of biodiversity. To learn more about one of our advocacy targets, have a look at Save Bonaire’s Marine Park case study.
Save Bonaire Marine Park Case Study
In 2013 STCB and STINAPA decided to go to court because an exception has been made to Bonaire’s long-standing laws in order to permit the construction of a pier and large deck supporting two bars, a restaurant, toilets and a fully-functioning kitchen, all right in the Bonaire National Marine Park.
Three years later this legal process is still happening. Questions we receive are; Why are we supposedly against local development? Why are we spending time in court when we are expected to be in the field?? The key message is that we are fighting for good governance, this means that we find it very important that the local government follows the local rules and regulations and that it is not right to make exceptions to the rule. It is about the process of development according to good governance that needs to be taken seriously if we want to develop as a sustainable island. It is also very important to realise that the outcome of one out of three appeals in this case will also have an irreversible impact on the other BES-islands, Saba and St. Eustatius. Advocacy remains one of our core goals because without good governance it becomes pretty difficult to move towards a sustainable future for sea turtles but also for you and for us. For the full story, take some time to visit our dedicated Facebook page ‘Save Bonaire Marine Park’.