Shark finning legislation for Caribbean Netherlands

The Dutch government is preparing legislation to forbid the finning of sharks and the trading of this animal in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, Minister of Agri­culture, Nature and Food Quality Carols Schouten announced on Monday in response to written ques­tions from Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Frank Wassenberg of the Party for Animals PvdD.

Wassenberg sent a series of questions to Schouten and to State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Re­lations Raymond Knops on October 24 following the release of a gruesome video on social media of the live finning of a shark in Curaçao that shocked many people throughout the Kingdom.

Schouten explained that while it was up to the coun­try Curaçao to take mea­sures to protect the shark population in its surround­ing waters, she noted that for the Dutch public enti­ties Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, which resort un­der her responsibility, the fisheries legislation was being adapted to forbid the trading and the finning of sharks in the Caribbean Netherlands.

A declaration of inten­tion has been signed with the Caribbean Netherlands islands to establish a shark reservation. Schouten stat­ed that education of and communication with the local population, the fisher­men and other stakeholders was an important aspect in this trajectory.

She added that research had been carried out to study the possibilities of reducing the mortality and side-catch of sharks. She is working on a shark and stingray strategy for the Ca­ribbean Netherlands and on an international level to better protect these ani­mals that are so important for the health of the seas and the coral reefs. The shark and stingray strat­egy will be ready in the first quarter of next year. Schouten shared the vi­sion of Tadzio Bervoets of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DNA) Shark Committee that “there was a lot of work to be done in legislation and enforcement, but especially in education”. She stated that education and commu­nication would be points of attention in the shark and stingray strategy.

As for the finning incident in Curaçao, she explained that the prohibiting of de-finning is secured in Euro­pean legislation, but that it hasn’t been taken over by the International Commis­sion for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas ICCAT and that as such this legis­lation doesn’t apply to non-European ICCAT mem­bers, including Curaçao. Asked by Member of Par­liament (MP) Wassenberg whether she was willing to seek clarity from Curaçao authorities on the finning incident and to urge the prosecution of the men in the video, Schouten stated that this was not up to her, but to the Curaçao govern­ment as Curaçao is an au­tonomous country, in the Kingdom.

“However, I did under­stand that the video caused a lot of commotion in Cu­raçao. The Curaçao gov­ernment has indicated that it will proceed on the short term to execute its Ocean Policy Plan which includes measures to better protect maritime life,” Schouten stated.

She confirmed MP Was­senberg’s information that Curaçao as yet had to es­tablish a shark reservation, as was pledged during a shark protection meeting in St. Maarten in 2016.

The Daily Herald.

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