Lac Bay is a unique tourism hot spot which boasts a wide array of habitats from fringing coral reefs to expansive seagrass meadows to the largest mangrove forest in the Dutch Caribbean. This area is the setting for a number of new activities to restore critical marine habitats under a project implemented by the Stichting Nationale Parken Bonaire (STINAPA Bonaire) with funding from RESEMBID of €792,480.
The agreement to fund the project was signed by STINAPA Bonaire and the Resilience, Sustainable Energy and Marine Biodiversity Programme (RESEMBID) on Monday 13th June 2022.
RESEMBID is funded by the European Union and implemented by Expertise France – the development cooperation agency of the Government of France. It supports sustainable human development efforts in 12 Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) – Aruba, Anguilla, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Montserrat, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Saint Barthélemy, Sint Maarten and Turks and Caicos.
“Lac Bay is a critically important ecosystem. It is a refuge for migratory birds, functions as a nursery for fish and turtles, and is a major tourist attraction on the island,” said Judith Raming, the Manager of the Bonaire National Marine Park. Under the Project the institutional capacity of the Park’s staff will be strengthened. “With the support of RESEMBID, our marine park rangers will be able to better enforce environmental legislation. Our team is looking forward to working towards a more sustainable future for Lac!” said Raming.
The project titled ‘‘Realizing a Blue Economy on Bonaire: Restoring Marine Biodiversity and Promoting Sustainable Recreation in Lac Bay” has five main goals: to restore critical marine habitats, to promote sustainable recreation, to enforce environmental regulations, to monitor water quality, and to ensure sustainable financing.
“We are very excited to collaborate with STINAPA on this important large-scale project, including a variety of integrated restoration activities for the unique and complex Lac habitat” said Francesca Virdis, Chief Operations Officer of the Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire. “Communication and stakeholders’ engagement will be key to succeed and ultimately ensure that nature and community will both benefit in the long term.”
Fabian Mckinnon, Programme Director at RESEMBID said, “It is almost serendipitous that RESEMBID’s agreement with STINAPA was finalized mere days after this year’s World Oceans Day, the theme of which was Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean. The work that STINAPA will undertake to restore these critical marine habitats is a phenomenal example of this collective action. RESEMBID is truly thrilled to both finance this work and give the technical support that will ensure this is a sustainable project to benefit the people of Bonaire for years to come”
Initiated by Commissioners James Kroon, Hennyson Thielman and Governor Rijna, the project presents a number of exciting opportunities to improve the health and resilience of Lac Bay, as well as encouraging sustainable recreation. The project includes seagrass and coral restoration, improved marine park support through increased presence and educational campaigns as well as an Environmental Impact Study for the dredging of sand from the bay.
“Pressures on humans and environment will continue to increase across Bonaire. Lac Bay will be faced with unprecedented levels of threats as recreational use and effects of climate change are steadily rising, like the increased influxes of sargassum and the deteriorating water conditions. Initiatives such as RESEMBID provide the tools needed to build local capacity and foster improved resilience in this critical natural area. I am very pleased the RESEMBID program granted funds to STINAPA to execute this project for Lac Bay”, according to commissioner Kroon.
Commissioner Thielman: “This is a very important project for the sustainable development of our island. Here we see how nature and economic development can go hand in hand. I am very grateful to the RESEMBID program for this financial contribution as well as to STINAPA for their vision to bring nature and sustainable economic development together”.
Follow along on STINAPA’s social media platforms for periodic updates as this project unfolds.