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The Wise Use of Wetlands: Balancing Tourism and Protections for a Ramsar Site in Curaçao.

  • Author(s): Mark, Danielson
  • et al.
Abstract

Curaҫao is a small island nation approximately 70 kilometers north of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea. The Waitt Institute’s Blue Halo Curaҫao program encourages the sustainable use and protection of Curaҫao’s marine resources and a priority has been to designate more protected areas. In September of 2018, Klein Curaҫao, a small uninhabited island off the coast of Curaҫao, was designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. Although sparsely vegetated, Klein Curaҫao serves as an important nesting and breeding ground for various species of sea birds, most notably the least tern (Sternula antillarum), as well as the endangered green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). In addition, the fringing coral reefs found off the coast are some of the healthiest coral reefs in Curaҫao, with high percent of coral cover, fish biomass, and fish and coral biodiversity. However, the island has become a hotspot for tourists, and unregulated tourism is one of the principal threats to the Klein Curaҫao’s ecological character. The designation of the island as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance requires a management plan to be drafted that ensures the conservation of the ecological character of the island while also promoting the sustainable use of its resources for the users of the island. With the help of the Waitt Institute, CARMABI, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Curaҫaoan Ministerio di Tráfiko, Transporte I Planifikashon Urbano (Ministry of Traffic, Transport & Urban Planning), or VVRP, and the Ministerie van Gezondheid Milieu en Natuur (Ministry of Health & the Environment), or GMN, I wrote a management plan that encompasses the goals of the Ramsar Convention: to protect Klein Curaҫao’s marine and terrestrial environments and allow the sustainable use of those environments. The methodology consisted of a preliminary literature review, a site visit to Klein Curaҫao, and meetings with local stakeholders, as well as government officials from VVRP and GMN. The management plan has been revised to take into account feedback given through the stakeholder engagement and meetings with the ministry officials and will be submitted to the government of Curaҫao for review and implementation.

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