SPAW meeting

SPAW meeting

Date 8-13th December 2014
Location Cartagena, Colombia

A series of meetings took place in Cartagena, Colombia from December 8th-13th 2014 under the Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP). During these meetings, which take place every two years, representatives of countries who have ratified the Cartagena Convention review the progress and achievements of the Convention and its Protocols.

The Cartagena Convention is a regional marine environment agreement signed in 1983 by 37 states and territories for the protection and development of the marine environment in the Wider Caribbean. It includes three Protocols: the Oil Spill Protocol for cooperation in oil spills, the SPAW Protocol (Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife) for the protection of areas and species and the LBS Protocol (Land Based Sources of Marine Pollution) for tackling pollution from land.

Good news for the Dutch Caribbean

The SPAW STAC6 and COP8 meetings on Dec 8th and 9th resulted in two very exciting developments for nature conservation on our islands:

  • three protected areas on Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten were recognised by the SPAW Protocol as protected areas of regional importance
  • six species found on our islands were officially added to SPAW’s Annexes II and III.

New Protected Areas

The Saba National Marine Park (Saba), the Man O War Shoal Marine Park (St. Maarten) and the St. Eustatius National Marine Park (St. Eustatius) are now officially recognized as protected areas under the SPAW Protocol of particular importance to the Wider Caribbean Region.

Aside from gaining new international recognition, the protected areas will benefit from many new opportunities. Park managers will be able to share information and resources with other SPAW protected areas within the Caribbean. The protected areas are also now eligible to benefit from SPAW grants and other assistance as SPAW sites become priorities for UNEP and the SPAW Secretariat.

SPAW protected areas are sites that contribute to the conservation of marine and coastal biodiversity within the region while protecting various and complimentary features, habitats and species. Within the Wider Caribbean region, 21 enjoy this international status. The Kingdom of the Netherlands now has a total of 6 SPAW recognized protected areas, ranking second after France for countries in the region with the most effective protected areas. The Bonaire National Marine Park (Bonaire), the Quill/Boven National Park (St. Eustatius) and the Saba Bank National Park (Saba) became SPAW protected areas in 2012.

With the exception of the Parke Nactional Arikok, all eligible protected areas within the Dutch Caribbean have now been recognised by SPAW. (The Christoffel Park, Curaçao and the Washington Slagbaai Park, Bonaire have not been legally established and are therefore ineligible)

New protected species

Ten species, of which six occur on our islands, have been added to SPAW’s Annex II (full protection) and Annex III (measures for sustainable use), granting them explicit protection.

Annex II (lists threatened or endangered animal species for which any form of destruction or disruption must be banned for their protection and recovery)

Annex III (lists animal and plant species for which special measures must be taken to ensure their protection and recovery whilst authorizing and regulating the use of these species)


SPAW protocol

The SPAW protocol came into force in 2000 and has two main objectives: to protect, preserve and sustainably manage areas of particular ecological value, and to protect and preserve threatened wild species or endangered species as well as their habitats. To date, 18 countries, including the Kingdom of the Netherlands, have ratified the SPAW Protocol. According to the terms of the protocol, the Parties must take the appropriate measures to protect, preserve and sustainably manage the areas that need protecting and the endangered animal and plant species on their territories. Parties must also cooperate with each other to ensure the protection and management of the region’s coastal and marine resources.

Countries Present at SPAW STAC6 and COP8 meetings

Representatives of thirteen countries were present at these meetings: Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Dominican Republic, France, Guyana, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Panama, St. Vincent & Grenadines, St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago and the United States. Cuba, Grenada and Venezuela were absent. The Kingdom of the Netherlands was represented by a delegation that included Paul Hoetjes (Caribbean Netherlands), Gisbert Boekhoudt (Aruba), Claudius Carty and Tadzio Bervoets (St. Maarten).

Overview of meetings

  • Dec 8th: Sixth Meeting of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC6) to the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW).
  • Dec 9th: Eighth Meeting of the Contracting Parties (COP8) to the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW)
  • Dec 10th: Second Meeting of the Contracting Parties (COP2) to the Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (LBS)
  • Dec 11-13th: The Sixteenth Intergovernmental Meeting on the Action Plan for the Caribbean Environment Programme (IGM16) and Thirteenth Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (COP13).

Meeting Agenda

The main issues that were discussed during the SPAW STAC6 and COP8 meetings were:

  • Recognition of protected areas nominated by different countries.
  • Guidelines and rules for the reporting of exceptions to the mandatory protection of species.
  • New species for addition to the annexes for protected species.
  • Work plan and budget for 2015-2016.



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