Published On: Tue, Jan 29th, 2013

UNEP reminds Curaçao of commitments SPAW-protocol

WILLEMSTAD – In a letter to the Premier, the Council of Ministers and the Parliament, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and its Caribbean Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP-CAR-RCU) pointed out the commitments/observance of the Cartagena-convention, Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW), as ratified by the Netherlands.

Nelson Andrade Comenares, the coordinator of UNEP-CAR-RCU wrote “Having recently learned about the development plans for Oostpunt from the Curaçao government, we want to express our concern and hope the government will reconsider these plans.” The organization referred to a recent analysis from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), based on a report from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama that drew the following conclusion. “Considering the Caribbean coral reeves are seriously degraded to an average coral cover of 8 percent (the higher the coral cover the healthier the reef), the reeves of Curaçao, Bonaire and the Cayman Islands still have a coral cover of 30 percent or more. This analysis showed once again that these reeves are the best reeves in the Caribbean area”, according to the organization, which emphasized that data shows the coral cover at Oostpunt is increasing while other reeves in the region only show a decrease. UNEP-CAR-RCU pointed out that the value of this reef at Oostpunt will increase while that of the Caribbean reeves will decrease. “This not only makes the reef of Oostpunt unique for Curaçao but for the entire Caribbean region and of worldwide importance. Therefore, the health of this reef is of vital importance for the functioning of the wider Caribbean ecosystems”, according to UNEP-CAR-RCU.

SPAW

The SPAW-protocol became effective in 2000 and meanwhile ratified by sixteen governments, including that of the Netherlands. “This country signed the protocol for the specific protection of the unique ecosystems of the Netherlands-Caribbean area, such as Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao and St. Maarten. The parties that support the protocol are expected to take all necessary measures for continual protection, preservation and management of the nature areas that are of special value for the endangered flora and fauna found there”, according to the organization. UNEP-CAR-RCU also referred to the protection commitment of special areas of biological value, scientific value and economic value. “Especially the areas that are important for the functioning of the wider Caribbean ecosystems and habitats of endangered species”, according to the organization in an appendix listing endangered coral species, marine mammals, turtles and black sea grass that are still well represented at Oostpunt and the surrounding waters. “As SPAW-partner, we expect Curaçao to meet the conditions of the protocol to protect this treasure of both national and regional value against development along the coast, which will cause an increase of sedimentation of nutrients (due to morbid growth of harmful algae) owing to tourist activities, the presence of hotels and marinas of which the disastrous impact on coral reeves is scientifically proven”, according to UNEP-CAR-RCU.

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