Court acknowledges the importance of proper nature conservation at Bonaire National Marine Park

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The correct title of the news item by Anouschka van de Ven (21 July 2016) isCourt acknowledges the importance of proper nature conservation legislation to protect the Natural Capital of Bonaire.” The news directly concerns the welfare of the Bonaire National Marine Park, which had been threatened over the summer by development projects.

Bonaire’s government was trying to open the National Marine Park to commercial development by re-zoning protected locations next to Karel’s Beach Bar and the former Green Parrot restaurant. Protestors led by Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire sued, and the court ruled in their favor on July 21, stating that authorities are “significantly breaching decades-old protection policy” of the marine park. Bonaire’s court of appeals intends to review the ruling. The verdict means that under existing legislation further commercial construction work will not be allowed in the Bonaire Marine Park. Plaintiffs STINAPA Bonaire and Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, the island’s two marine conservation organizations, celebrated the outcome as the verdict.

Mabel Nava, manager of Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire said “We are pleased with the verdict because it shows the importance of following good governance and working together to foster sustainable economic development on Bonaire. At this moment all parties involved are communicating with each other with the goal of moving towards a sustainable lasting strategy for the future. We are extremely thankful for all our Save Bonaire Marine Park supporters, without their support we would not have come this far”.

See excerpts of a communications thread from STINAPA here:

Six weeks ago, the BES Court of First Instance heard the second round of appeals against ongoing government attempts to open the Bonaire National Marine Park to development that could have irreversible negative impacts on the marine ecosystem. Yesterday morning, plaintiffs STCB and STINAPA, received the decisions of the BES Court of First Instance.

The amendment of Bonaire¹s Spatial Development Plan (ROB) to re-zone the locations next to Karel¹s Beach Bar, and at the defunct Green Parrot restaurant property, from “Marine Park,” a protected zone, to “Center,” an urban development designation, has been annulled by the Court of First Instance. The Court ruled that the change made to the zoning plan was inadequately motivated and the Court noted that the laws and policies that have for decades protected the value of the marine park were not considered by the local government.

Court of First Instance ruled against enforcement of the removal of the 34 pillars. The argument is that no harm is done to the marine environment and therefore local government is not obliged to enforce the removal of the pillars until it is completely clear whether or not the proposed pier can be built.

The Court of First Instance decided that the change of the Nature Ordinance is not subject to appeal, however, the Court has annulled the granted permit for the development of the pier in the Marine Park with parcel numbers 4-D-626 and 4-D-627 since this permit cannot be dissociated from the annulment of the zoning plan.

[Photo above by Lorenzo Mittiga.]

For full news reports, see http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/pipermail/coral-list/2015-July/015738.html

More information regarding the initiative Save Bonaire Marine Park can be found at the dedicated website, www.savebonairemarinepark.org and http://stinapabonaire.org/bonaire-national/

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