Informational material on protected species (CITES) developed for the Caribbean Netherlands

Bonaire / Saba / Sint Eustatius

Informational material for regulations outlined in the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species of wild flora and fauna (also known as the CITES) has been developed for residents and tourists on Bonaire, Saba, and St. Eustatius. Posters, signs, and brochures have been made in four languages (Dutch, English, Papiamentu, and Spanish) by the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) by order of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (ANFQ).

Image credit: © Deviate Design & Mercedes Madriz

In advance of the return of tourists, these materials will be placed at the airports and ports, and at the government and customs offices, nature park management organizations, diving schools, and hotels throughout the Caribbean Netherlands. In this way, DCNA and ANFQ will work to raise awareness about the protected status of flora and fauna in the Caribbean Netherlands, such as orchids and corals, and the rules concerning the removal of these species.

Conservation of biodiversity

The islands of the Caribbean Netherlands have a rich biodiversity. Many species are endemic to one (or more) of the islands, meaning they cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Almost 200 species living in the wild in the Caribbean Netherlands are protected by CITES. The list includes turtles, iguanas, orchids, cacti, whales, rays, and bird species. Furthermore, the corals these islands are known for, living or dead, are also protected under CITES and therefore cannot be removed. In addition to the CITES regulations, stricter local rules and measures may also apply.

What does this mean in practice?

Exporting living or dead species included on the CITES list to another country without a CITES permit – including between the Caribbean Netherlands to the Netherlands and vice versa – is prohibited. These regulations apply whether the species or objects are taken as a gift or for one’s own use, and include items such as orchids, cacti, corals, seahorses, turtles, sharks, iguanas, and birds. These regulations also apply to parts or products made of or from these species, such as food products, exotic leatherware, wooden sculptures, ornaments, musical instruments, or local medicines. In certain cases, exporting species or objects is prohibited altogether. Violation of these regulations can lead to penalties and/or legal action.

Check in advance: is it protected?

The mere fact that something is for sale or that you found it on the ground or in the sea, does not mean that you are allowed to take or travel with it. When in doubt as to whether you can take a species (or a part of a product made of or from this species), you can contact the local CITES authority with the National Office of the Caribbean Netherlands (Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland, RCN), the customs authorities, the public entity, or the local management organization of the protected nature area.

What is CITES?

CITES is the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species of wild flora and fauna which regulates and, if necessary, prohibits the trade or removal of a species for the benefit of conserving it in the wild. More than 37,000 flora and fauna species are currently protected under the CITES convention. A CITES permit is required for the trade of these species. In some cases, the trade is prohibited altogether if the species is seriously threatened with extinction. These regulations do not only apply to the respective plants and animals but also to products made of or from these species.

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Check the CITES information for the Caribbean Netherlands online:

For more information about CITES:

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