From the 21st to the 23rd of November 2022, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) together with Fundacion Parke Nacional Aruba (FPNA) hosted a workshop on Marine Management in Aruba. Delegates from both governments and park management organisations representing islands in the Dutch Caribbean came together for in-depth discussion on how to address the unique challenges our islands face when protecting the ocean. It is the first time such a workshop was organised for the Dutch Caribbean.
At the start of the workshop invited experts from Australia, Jamaica, United Kingdom, Colombia, the USA and Aruba presented examples of best practices and innovative approaches to ocean protection from around the world, which were used in problem solving exercises and round table discussions on an expansive mix of subjects such as marine park management, sustainable fisheries management, control and enforcement at sea, sustainable tourism and strategic stakeholder mapping. Minister Ursell Arends, the Minister of Integrity, Transport, Nature and Senior Affairs for the government of Aruba kicked-off the workshop, outlining the ambitious agenda that Aruba has for marine conservation, which includes establishing an ‘island-round’ marine park.
Minister Ursell Arends: “For many years, Aruba has prioritised our economic prosperity, at the expense of our nature. The ambition is to expand the current four-area marine park to an island-round marine park as part of a larger goal for Aruba’s eventual Marine Spatial Plan. Rather than prohibit activities, the island-round marine park model will create a roadmap for a sustainable balance between the human and economic activities of our maritime space and the conservation of marine life.”
As part of the workshop, participants were invited to hike through Parke Nacional Arikok to learn more about Aruba’s diverse flora and fauna. This hike served as a reminder of why it is vital to protect nature and also gave FPNA the chance to showcase the important work the team is doing to protect and conserve nature in Aruba.
“We were honoured to collaborate with DCNA to host the Marine Management workshop in Aruba and welcome key stakeholders and international experts to share knowledge and expertise on marine management with the different island representatives”, said Natasha Silva, Chief Conservation Officer, FPNA. Now more than ever, our oceans are under great threat, and from the workshop it is evident that we all have ambitious plans to protect and manage our island’s marine environment and beyond. Collaboration on local level and cross-island is key in implementing innovative approaches to protect our oceans for generations to come.
This was the first of a series of workshops that DCNA plans to host in the coming years, each time on a different island but all focused on sustainable management of natural resources and the protection of nature. This workshop was generously sponsored by the Oceans5 funders’ collaborative and supported by the Blue Marine Foundation and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence.
“It was great to see such a big diversity of participants who were all enthusiastic about collaborating with each other,” says Irene Kingma, Policy Advisor to DCNA. “As DCNA-secretariat, we play a facilitatory role towards our members, and capacity building and knowledge sharing is a central part in that.”