The six islands of the Dutch Caribbean— Saba, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire—will benefit from a new funding initiative provided by the Dutch Postcode Lottery aimed at an essential conservation effort—saving shark species by creating a safe-haven for their protection. As Tadzio Bervoets (Vice-chair of DCNA and Chair of the Save our Sharks Project Committee) states, “Saving them from extinction and, invariably, saving ourselves as islanders.” In the Caribbean, sharks face numerous threats from poaching, finning, overfishing and coastal development. With this funding, DCNA will focus on Science: learning more about shark species; Education: helping more people learn about sharks; and Legislation: protecting sharks throughout the six islands and ensuring that that protection is adequately enforced.
The fund will provide €1.6 million to the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) to assist with the effort of shark conservation on all six islands of the Dutch Caribbean; Saba, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire. The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) is a nonprofit organization created to protect the environment and promote sustainable management of natural resources on the six Dutch Caribbean islands.
The Save our Sharks effort in the Caribbean may be the first to attempt a concerted regional approach in the global endeavor to save sharks and is one of the five major shark conservation projects running globally.
Conservation organizations worldwide are focusing on preserving sharks, which are some of the most endangered species on the planet. Science has described at least 500 species of sharks but many species, which have existed since the time of the Dinosaurs, face increasing human-related threats and, for some species, extinction.
The demand for fins and other shark products has driven a number of species close to extinction. More than 100 million sharks are killed each year as a result of fishing and shark finning activities, twice the rate at which they can reproduce. Sharks are especially vulnerable to overfishing and slow to recover from depletion because they are late to mature and produce few young.
Tadzio Bervoets, Vice-chair of DCNA and Chair of the Save our Sharks Project Committee, commented that all of the Dutch Islands aim to have a level of shark conservation in place at the end of the three year project. [. . .] Kalli De Meyer, DCNA’s executive director, also stressed the importance of protecting these critical species; “People need healthy oceans and healthy oceans need sharks, the apex predator of the ocean,” said De Meyer.
[. . .] Island conservation organizations that form the Dutch Caribbean conservation alliance will work with fishermen, local communities, and scientists to study local shark populations. The knowledge they gain will be shared with regional decision makers and other island stakeholders in an effort to create shark sanctuaries throughout the Dutch Caribbean seas.
For more information, see www.dcnanature.org