Information on Oostpunt including carmabi ‘s concerns regarding the proposed zoning plan

 

DIGITAL CAMERANEW Open letter to the Parliament of Curacao regarding the recently proposed rezoning of Oostpunt to members of the same Parliament. The Dutch version can be found by clicking here, the Papiamentu version can be found here. A letter with similar, but slightly more detailed information as also send to the Governor of Curacao. Click here to see the letter to the Governor.

Carmabi has produced various informative documents to inform Curacaoans and other interested parties about the unique nature that can be found near/ at Oostpunt, both below and above the water surface.

In addition, Carmabi has produced various documents that overview the Foundation’s concerns regarding the proposed development of Oostpunt as published on the website of the Curacaoan Government in 2012. These documents serve to share existing concerns, to promote constructive dialogue and inform stakeholder groups on many important aspects that have not been addressed in the study investigating the extend to which Oostpunt can be developed that was made available in 2012 through the Government’s website.

We also like to stress that Carmabi does not oppose sustainable and “smart” development of the Oostpunt area, we simply believe that the proposed plans are ill informed and unnecessarily contribute to the loss of unique ecosystems that make Curacao stand out positively in the Caribbean region. Carmabi would also like to clarify that it has no desire whatsoever to develop anything or start activities of any kind at Oostpunt despite often heard suggestions in that direction.

The main idea behind our proposal for an alternative development scenario is shown below. It would allow for the protection of Curacao’s (and the Caribbean for that matter) best and most important coral reefs. Protecting some of the adjacent land is needed to protect the watershed associated with this area based on the well-known “ridge to reef concept”, which is used worldwide to protect coastal reef systems. Click here for more information on this concept. The remainder of Oostpunt (i.e., the area in orange) could then be used for smart development to accommodate the island’s needs.

main idea behind division of usages

When one would combine the concept shown above with the proposed development scenario’s produced by Wolff c.s. (for the orange part only), one would obtain a combination plan in which both development and conservation are possible. Combining the Wolff plan with the map above would result approximately in a map shown below. Again, this is merely to illustrate the possibility of combining conservation and development scenarios and what such combination would look like in general. Additional studies would have to be conducted to produce a final “combination scenario”, but at least this scenario strives to accommodate known needs of developers and concerns of societal groups. To make sure: this plan only adds a national park to the plans proposed so far and none of the developments are similar to the development scenario proposed by Wolff c.s. resulting in relative small modifications (on the right) compared to the proposed plans of Wolff (left)  as illustrated by the pictures below.

Comparison Wolff vs Park

 

 

Below one can find documents and other information regarding Oostpunt (note that documents can be large and downloads might take some time)…

 

CONCERNS REGARDING THE CURRENTLY PROPOSED PLAN BY VVRP TO DEVELOP OOSTPUNT

Carmabi’s presentation shown during the Oostpunt hearing (2013-01-14) illustrating aspects currently not considered in the planning process intended to aid the decision making process

Cover letter send to the government, click here

Carmabi’s concerns/ comments on the legal trajectories relevant to Oostpunt, click here

Carmabi’s concerns/ comments on the general procedures relevant to Oostpunt, click here

Carmabi’s concerns/ comments on the statements made by foreign consultants  about  terrestrial and marine ecosystems at Oostpunt, click here

NEW Carmabi’s request to the Court of Curacao for an expert opinion to assess whether the Wolff study can be considered as an Environmental Impact Study as required by Curacaoan Law

 

DEVELOPMENT PLANS FOR OOSTPUNT AS PREPARED BY KPMG, WOLFF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE AND LANGAN

Public presentation by Wolff Architecture and Langan about their development plans (shown during public meeting on October 30th, 2012)

Economic impact study by KPMG for proposed development of Oostpunt (made publicly available by VVRP in October 2012)

Proposed zoning plan (made publicly available by VVRP in October 2012)

Oostpunt planning study compressed version in three separate parts due to the large size of the original document
Part 1 (page 1-70), part 2 (page 71-140), part 3 (page 141-212) (Wolff Landscape Architecture and Langan) (made publicly available by VVRP in October 2012)

 

A SHORT OVERVIEW OF UNIQUE ECOLOGY OF OOSTPUNT

The public presentation (4Mb) held at Carmabi on October 2nd 2014 can be found by clicking the links below. This presentation addresses the uniqueness of Oostpunt’s natural assets and how to view these as to promote Curacao’s uniqueness relative to other islands in the Caribbean

Click here for the Dutch Version or here for the version in Papiamentu

Information on Oostpunt in English, click here

Information on Oostpunt in Papiamentu, click here

To see a healthy reef at Oostpunt during a virtual dive, click here and press the play button (and then compare it with a reef affected by coastal development etc. near Willemstad, by clicking here)

 

GENERAL DOCUMENTS RELEVANT TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF OOSTPUNT

Chapter from “De Vastgoed fraude” (i.e., the biggest real-estate scam in the Netherlands) describing the connection between parties involved in the planning process of Oostpunt and Dutch real estate criminals (in Dutch) Click here.

Landsverordening (~ Gov’t’s decision) to appoint a committee that has to overview and discuss  the concerns raised against the development plan proposed by Wolff c.s.
NOTE: The findings of this committee were never communicated to anyone that commented on the proposed Oostpunt zoning plans. So despite the fact that the committee was specifically tasked to review all concerns raised, the results are till now unknown.

Summary of topics that were discussed during the meeting between VVRP and Carmabi to discuss Carmabi’s concerns against the proposed plans

Vaststellingsovereenkomst Curacao-Erven Maal NOTE: This document was legally obtained under the law of Public Governance

Presentation of a committee that addressed the objections to the proposed plans for the Minister NOTE: This document was legally obtained under the law of Public Governance in 2016

Beslisdocument” in which the Ministry of VVRP “responded” to all the concerns raised regarding the proposed development of Oostpunt and subsequently informed the Council of Ministers that “all was fine”….

NEW Presentatie Zienswijze Commissie aan de Minister Februari 2014 NOTE: This document was legally obtained under the law of Public Governance in 2016

NEW The very critical evaluation of the “Raad van Advies” of the proposed plans to develop Oostpunt (in Dutch)

NEW The Proposed Law submitted to parliament by the Ministry of VVRP to rezone the Oostpunt area (note the absence of any responses/ reaction to any of the concerns raised the Raad van Advies, local stakeholders and internationally renowned scientists studying coral reefs

 

INTERNATIONAL REEF EXPERTS AND GOVERNMENTS SPEAK OUT AGAINST PROPOSED TOTAL DEVELOPMENT OF OOSTPUNT

United Nations remind Curacao about international treaty obligations regarding Oostpunt (AMIGOE Jan. 28 2013)

Worldwide conservation organizations caution parliament against rash decisions regarding Oostpunt (AMIGOE Jan. 4 2013)

Prof Dr. Bak about proposed measures proposed by VVRP to prevent damage to reefs: “There is no evidence such measures exist at present”  (AMIGOE 10-27-2014)

Reef experts request reevaluation of Oostpunt development plan (AMIGOE Aug. 14 2013)

Members Dutch parliament concerned about developing Oostpunt (AMIGOE Feb. 13 2013)

Professor R. Bak (coral biologist)  “Developing Oostpunt will cause reefs to die” (AMIGOE Nov. 11 2012) NOTE: This article resulted in critical questions being asked in the Dutch Parliament regarding the proposed plans to develop Oostpunt

Famous coral biologist describes uniqueness and possibilities of Oostpunt’s reefs (AMIGOE Dec. 18 2012)

 

OOSTPUNT IN THE NEWS: AN OVERVIEW OF RELEVANT ARTICLES

NEW Ministry of VVRP completely ignores negative advice from Social Economic Council (SER)  regarding proposed Oostpunt development (AMIGOE 10-14-2016)

NEW Ministry of VVRP completely ignores negative advice from Raad van Advies regarding proposed Oostpunt development (AMIGOE 10-12-2016)

NEW  Curacao reefs buffer against storms, contribute more than $400 Million each year to the local economy and Oostpunt’s reefs are unique (Curacao Chronicle 10-05-2016) English version from the Curacao Chronicle can be found here

NEW Waitt: Curacao’s marine tourism and coral reefs contribute more than 400 Million dollars each year to the local economy (AMIGOE 10-01-2016)

NEW Member of Parliament calls upon Ministry of VVRP to stop ignoring concerns from stakeholder groups (AMIGOE 09-29-2016)

NEW  Conceptslandsverordening ingediend en alle adviezen experts genegeerd (AMIGOE 09-27-2016)

NEW  VVRP Minister schrijft Project commissie Oostpunt aan (AMIGOE 09-08-2016)

NEW WWF biedt fondsen voor ontwikkeling alternatief ontwikkelingsplan Oostpunt (AMIGOE 08-17-2016)

NEW  Rif gaat kapot (AMIGOE 08-17-2016)

NEW  Sulvaran: “Mogelijke oplossing [inzake Oostpunt] kan win-win voor iedereen zijn” (AMIGOE 10-26-2015)

Mr. Maal; “Government ignores agreement obligation Oostpunt” (Curacao Chronicle 10-26-2015)

Maal wil schadevergoeding voor niet nakomen afspraken Oostpunt (AMIGOE 10-24-2015)

Critical notes regarding the map provided by Minister Balborda (VVRP) to the Council of Ministers. This map was supposedly a modified version of an earlier map taking into account the concerns raised regarding the proposed zoning plan by Wolff c.s. The map appears however similar to earlier versions, i.e., does not include modifications in response to those that voiced concerns (AMIGOE 10-03-2015).

Concerns about illegal land transfers in Oostpunt deal between owner and government (AMIGOE 10-01-2014)

Government members raise concerns regarding plans and a critical look at the agreement between the Government and the owners of Oostpunt (AMIGOE 09-15-2014)

Concerns raised regarding Oostpunt development ignored by Government (17 sep. 2014; AMIGOE)

Policies and laws are creatively interpreted by developers: How another project (Wechi) illustrates how existing Curacaoan laws are ignored ( 22 aug.2014; AMIGOE)

General surprise when Ministers approve decision document for Oostpunt (AMIGOE Sep. 12 2014)

Developing Oostpunt is good for the local economy (Versgeperst Apr. 16 2013)

Presentation by Carmabi about Oostpunt development (incl. maps) for local business group (AMIGOE Aug. 23 2014)

Oostpunt: undisturbed microcosm (AMIGOE Aug. 7 2013)

Offer to help with land purchase to protect Oostpunt (NTR Sep. 6 2013)

Meeting to explain development plans: things remain unclear (AMIGOE via Knipsel Krant Curacao Oct. 31 2012)

Decision making and planning process appear questionable and related to earlier real-estate scams (AMIGOE Nov. 20 2012)

Decision document by VVRP almost ready, but does not include responses to concerns (AMIGOE Mrt. 10 2014)

New handbook for coral reef managers: Towards Reef Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods: a handbook for Caribbean reef managers

New handbook for coral reef managers: Towards Reef Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods: a handbook for Caribbean reef managers

Cover Reef managgers manual for website-resizedThe FORCE project (click here for details) has produced a handbook that aims to provide reef managers with tools, information and recommendations on management of coral reef ecosystems. The handbook sections range from ecological history and biogeography, resilience as well as climate change issues to fisheries, governance and the monitoring of coral reef ecosystems.Within each section are practical stand-alone ‘briefs’. These briefs offer concise information on particular reef-related issues, utilising some of the most recent scientific research to inform management actions. Each of the briefings is a unique grab-and-go resource. The accessible format also provides a useful resource for students, researchers, policy-makers and anyone interested in the future of Caribbean coral reefs.

Below you can download specific subsections or the entire raport

Entire report (low res)


Foreword

Preface

Contents

Caribbean coral reefs: ecological history & biogeography (pgs 10-23)

Coral reef state and resilience (pgs 24-51)

Climate change & its effects on Caribbean coral reefs (pgs 52-63)

Coral reef fisheries management (pgs 64-93)

Ecosystem services & their value (pgs 94-111)

Governance (pgs 112-131)

Livelihoods (pg 132-143)

Reef monitoring for management (pgs 144-160)

Glossary

References

Acknowledgements

Image Credits

Click here is you would like a higher resolution copy of the entire handbook. Be warned, this document is 292M in size.

Coral reef jobs currently available

research-05

Tropical Marine Conservation Biology Instructor

CIEE Research Station Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean

Application deadline: 1 December 2016 (review begins immediately)

Spring Semester & Summer Programs: January 15 – August 15, 2017 (7 months)

The CIEE Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation Program in Bonaire is a study abroad program for upper level, undergraduate biology students. The innovative 14-week semester and 12-week summer programs features student achievement in theoretical knowledge and mastery of research skills.

The Tropical Marine Conservation Biology Instructor is part of a team of professionals that support an exceptional overseas learning experience for students from universities in the US. Prior research or teaching experience in Tropical Marine Conservation Biology; teaching and leadership skills; the ability to be an exemplary part of the team and interest in all aspects of the success of the Research Station are distinguishing characteristics for the position. During the semester the Instructor will teach: Tropical Marine Conservation Biology; Co-Teach Marine Ecology Field Research Methods and Co-teach Independent Research in Marine Ecology/Biology. In the summer program, the Instructor will Co-Teach Marine Ecology Field Research Methods (twice) and Co-Teach Coral Reef Ecology Research.

This is a full-time academic position with significant responsibilities to the program’s success. The team in Bonaire organizes and participates in the Outreach program, Public Lecture series, field trips, camping and other group activities. In addition to teaching responsibilities, duties will include supporting CIEE’s research program, which includes field and laboratory research, analyzing data, report writing, proposal writing and manuscript preparation. The AAUS Dive Safety Program requires excellent planning and record keeping. Lastly, the instructor will work closely with the Director and Administration to assist with day to day operations at the field station.. This is a physically demanding position.

Qualifications
The minimum qualifications are: a PhD in Biology (or related field) with an emphasis in marine conservation, ecology or biology; scientific diving experience; broad field research experience in marine conservation and excellent analytical skills; demonstrated ability to work as a team member; a commitment to education and research in coral reef ecology and conservation; an eagerness to work closely with students; and an appreciation for field-based education. Other requirements: a comprehensive dive physical (AAUS); a full set of dive gear; current certifications in First Aid, CPR, DAN Oxygen Rescue; and DAN dive insurance.

Compensation: Salary (commensurate with experience) and round trip air fare are provided for this position. Although temporary, success in this position may lead to a year around position in the fall of 2017. Qualified candidates are encouraged to submit a cover letter (detailing teaching experience, diving credentials, field and laboratory research experience); a CV; contact information for three references; and statement of teaching philosophy in a single pdf to info@cieebonaire.org<mailto:info@cieebonaire.org>.  Please enter – TMCB Instructor application – in the regarding line of the email.. For more information about the semester and summer programs in Bonaire go to www.cieebonaire.org<http://www.cieebonaire.org/> or visit CIEE Bonaire on Facebook.

Coral spawning predictions for the Southern Caribbean (2016)

Based on last year’s surveys a prediction is now available of expected times and dates that some of the more abundant Caribbean coral species will release the next generation of corals during the annual coral spawning. The dates are only applicable to the Southern Caribbean. Be aware that the coral spawning is becoming more difficult to predict each year and that this schedule of estimated spawning times provides no guarantees. To see the 2016-spawning prediction for the Southern Caribbean, see:

SPAWNING PREDICTIONS 2016

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Laboratory-bred corals reproduce in the wild

Researchers of SECORE International (USA, Germany), the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands) and the Carmabi Marine Research Station (Curaçao) have for the first time successfully raised laboratory-bred colonies of a threatened Caribbean coral species to sexual maturity. “In 2011, offspring of the critically endangered elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) were reared from gametes collected in the field and were outplanted to a reef one year later”, explains Valérie Chamberland, coral reef ecologist working for SECORE and Carmabi. “In four years, these branching corals have grown to a size of a soccer ball and reproduced, simultaneously with their natural population, in September 2015. This event marks the first ever successful rearing of a threatened Caribbean coral species to its reproductive age.” These findings have been published in the latest issue of the scientific journal Bulletin of Marine Science.

Due to its large size and branching shape, elkhorn corals created vast forests in shallow reef waters that protect shores from incoming storms and provide a critical habitat for a myriad of other reef organisms, including ecologically and economically important fish species. An estimated 80% of all Caribbean corals have disappeared over the last four decades and repopulating degraded reefs has since become a management priority throughout the Caribbean region. The elkhorn coral was one of the species whose decline was so severe that it was one of the first coral species to be listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species act in 2006, and as critically endangered under the IUCN Red List of Threatened species in 2008. Consequently, measures to aid Caribbean reef recovery often focus on the elkhorn coral given its major decline and its ecological importance.

Since 2010, SECORE, Carmabi, and partners from aquariums around the world started a project aimed at developing techniques to rear larger numbers of elkhorn coral offspring so they could eventually be outplanted to degraded reefs throughout the Caribbean. “Our approach differs substantially from the one generally used by the large number of reef restoration groups that operate throughout the Caribbean”, explains Dirk Petersen, coral reef expert and director of SECORE. “These groups generally use the ‘coral gardening’ approach, where small fragments are harvested from coral colonies on the reef. The fragments are then grown in special nurseries to larger sizes before they are returned to the reef.” Although this method has been applied throughout the Caribbean, it does not allow for new genetic combinations as the fragments harbor the same genes as the donor colonies and are therefore copies of their parents. “By contrast, SECORE developed a technique whereby male and female gametes are caught in the wild and fertilized in the laboratory to raise larger numbers of genetically unique corals”, says Dirk Petersen.

Elkhorn corals reproduce only once or twice a year, generally a few days after the full moon in August. During those nights, Acropora colonies synchronously release their gametes into the water column. The project team collects a small proportion of these gametes by gently placing special nets around spawning colonies to collect the floating gamete bundles. After collection, the researchers produce coral embryos by in vitro fertilization, mixing sperm and eggs in the laboratory. Coral embryos develop into swimming larvae within days and eventually settle onto specifically designed substrates. After a short nursery period, the project team outplants the substrates with the newly settled corals to the reef. Details on the techniques developed by SECORE during this project were recently published in the scientific journal Global Ecology and Conservation.

“We just learned that elkhorn corals can reach sexual maturity in only 4 years. This is exciting news, as we now know that offspring raised in the laboratory and outplanted to a reef can contribute to the natural pool of gametes during the annual mass-spawning of elkhorn corals within 4 years”, says Valérie Chamberland. By using a restoration method based on sexual rather than asexual (or clonal) reproduction, the SECORE method also promotes the formation of new genotypes that could potentially cope better with the conditions on modern reefs than their already struggling parents. These sexually-bred corals therefore not only aid in the recovery of dwindling elkhorn coral populations by increasing the number of colonies, but also by increasing the genetic diversity of this critically endangered species, thus giving evolution the opportunity to play its part.

While these initial results provide some hope for the restoration of endangered elkhorn populations, restoration cannot perform miracles. “Our techniques can only support natural recovery, which means that conditions have to be appropriate to allow long term survival of outplanted corals and succession by other organisms to restore ecosystem functions. Hence, outplanting efforts have best chances for success in well managed areas where stress has been reduced, but where, for some reason, no natural recruitment occurs. We don’t get around to protect coral reefs and to apply additional management tools to reduce overfishing, pollution and other threats to coral reefs”, underlines Dirk Petersen. “So far, any restoration effort is restricted to small areas and involves costly and labor intensive hands-on work. We now need to take the next step forward to apply our findings on a larger scale in Curaçao and elsewhere in the Caribbean. For that purpose, we started a joint pilot project last August.”

This work would not have been possible without the cooperation and support of SECORE’s partner aquariums such as Curaçao Sea Aquarium, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Shedd Aquarium, and Henry Doorly Zoo.

References
Four-year-old Caribbean Acropora colonies reared from field-collected gametes are sexually mature. (2016) Bulletin of Marine Science, Chamberland VF, Petersen D, Latijnhouwers KRW, Snowden S, Mueller B, Vermeij MJA; click here for pdf

Restoration of critically endangered elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) populations using larvae reared from wild-caught gametes. (2016) Global Ecology and Conservation, Chamberland VF, Vermeij MJA, Brittsan M, Carl M, Schick M, Snowden S, Schrier S, Petersen D; click here for pdf

A 2 month old Acropora colony raised from home-reared larvae

A 2 month old Acropora colony raised from home-reared larvae

Coral spawning predictions for 2015

Based on last year’s surveys a prediction is now available of expected times and dates that some of the more abundant Caribbean coral species will release the next generation of corals during the annual coral spawning. The dates are only applicable to the Southern Caribbean. Be aware that the coral spawning is becoming more difficult to predict each year and that this schedule of estimated spawning times provides no guarantees. To see the 2014-spawning prediction for the Southern Caribbean, Coral spawning 2015

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New lab opened and open for research

New lab opened and open for research

LAB NEW 1 (2)The building of the new Carmabi lab is largely completed and can now be used as accommodation and research facility by visiting scientists and students. The construction of the lab started in June 2011 and after the completion of construction around January 2013, has already accommodated approximately 100 visiting researchers and students. Starting June 2013 the facilities are open to everyone interested in staying at Carmabi for research or courses.

The new building consists of four layers. The bottom houses a kitchen, a dining room which doubles as a presentation room capable of seating up to 50 people. The second floor of the 60m long building is entirely devoted to a several research labs and a library containing a large number of unique books and journals on the ecology of marine and terrestrial Caribbean ecosystems. The third layer consists of five spacious rooms that can house up to 4 people each. The 4th and top floor consists of ten “deluxe” rooms that each have their own bathroom, shared balcony and air-conditioning. These rooms provide room for one or two people each. The large number of rooms was specifically included in the design of the new building to support large groups such as those visiting the island for courses and small conferences.

LAB NEW 1 (4)The new building oversees the old Carmabi building build in 1955 and the Caribbean Sea and its construction was made possible by funds made available from the Curacao Government through the SEI program, the Dutch Ministries of ELI and OCW and Carmabi’s own contribution. The official opening is expected to occur in November 2013.

Visitors can dive/snorkel directly in front of the station or nearby sites. Because the island is relatively small, a large number of different ecosystems can be visited during day-trips around the island and nearly all reefs are accessible from shore. Special packages are available should one want to combine a marine oriented course with historic, cultural or terrestrial aspects of Curacao. A wet lab with running seawater and 30 80x40x40cm aquaria is present. A large dry lab with basic laboratory equipment (e.g. microscopes, drying ovens, scales, basic chemical supplies etc.) is also present with 26.5m of available bench space. CARMABI presently owns three boats that are available for research purposes. Please contact Carmabi if you are planning to conduct genetic studies as such facilities will soon be available. Assistance can be provided to accommodate whatever other need exists to successfully complete research projects or teach courses.

LAB NEW 1 (3)For additional information or specific enquiries, contact: Mark Vermeij / Carmabi Research Station Homepage: click here

Additional information for potentially interested parties
Local ecosystems
The island of Curaçao is surrounded by a fringing reef. Since near shore development is largely absent and pollution occurs locally only near the inhabited part of the island, Curaçaoan reefs are often in much better condition relative to many other Caribbean sites. Especially the island’s undeveloped, north shore and eastern and western sides of the south shore still harbor coral communities reminding one of reef communities that existed 30-40years ago. Dense Acropora populations are still present and at the island’s eastern side, and Diadema are increasing again in abundance. Reefs are generally characterized by a 50-100m wide sandy reef flat in which scattered patch type coral communities are present. Around 8m depth, the reef flat starts to slope down to depths between 60-90m. Coral cover can be extremely high (>70%) and an approximately 65 coral species can easily be found at any site around the island. Nearly all reefs/ community types can be accessed from shore, including those in front of CARMABI. The ease by which reefs can be accessed makes them extremely suitable for more elaborate or intensive experimental approaches. In addition to its fringing reefs with a total surface of 20 km2, large inland bays can be found around the island in which mangrove/seagrass communities occur that serve as nursery areas for certain types of reef fish. The number of known fish species for Curaçao is currently 358.

Logistics and facilities
Cresearch-22uraçao (CUR) is connected to the US with direct daily 2.5hr flights from Miami (MIA), to Europe by daily 8.5hr flights to Amsterdam (AMS; Netherlands) and to South America by frequent 1hr  flights to Caracas (CAR; Venezuela). As an former Dutch colony, the island still has strong ties to the Netherlands resulting in a strong western influence on the island. The island lies outside the Atlantic hurricane belt and diving / boating along the island’s south shore is possible every day of the year. CARMABI is situated outside Willemstad, the historic capital of the island, right next to the Piscaderabay, a large inland bay surrounded by mangroves. The institute directly borders the ocean and coral reefs can be found within swimming distance. The institute provides several facilities / services to assist those interested in working on a wide variety of topics related to reef ecology/ biology in the Southern Caribbean. Assistance can be provided to accommodate whatever other need exists to successfully complete research projects or samples can be collected and send overseas to parties unable to visit the institute themselves.By means of this article, CARMABI would like to extend an invitation to interested parties to use its facilities and convenient location to conduct research in coral reef ecology on the island of Curaçao in the Dutch Antilles. Interested parties can contact the scientific department of the CARMABI institute for further information, reservations or requests at: m.vermeij@carmabi.org . See also: www.carmabi.org and click on “research station”.

An brochure overviewing all information above can be downloaded Carmabi information June 2013 POSTER

Online kaart helpt met de bestrijding van lionfish

Sinds 2009 wordt de invasieve lionfish langs de kust van Curacao waargenomen. Hoewel deze vis een prachtige verschijning is, hebben meerdere wetenschappelijke studies uitgewezen dat deze soort de lokale visstand van voornamelijk juveniele vissen ernstig doet teruglopen. Vissoorten die belangrijk zijn voor de lokale visserij (e.g., purunchi) of voor het behoud van koraalriffen (e.g., papegaaivissen) nemen daarom op den duur in aantal af. Op eilanden waar de lionfish eerder arriveerde dan op Curacao, zijn deze gevolgen duidelijk zichtbaar en op de Bahamas wordt bijvoorbeeld geschat dat het aantal juveniele vissen met 80% is afgenomen na de komst van de lionfish. Op Curaçao en Bonaire is in vergelijking met andere eilanden vroegtijdig begonnen met de bestrijding van lionfish langs de gehele kust. Uit onderzoek van Stinapa (Bonaire) en Curaçao is gebleken dat deze bestrijding werkt en het aantal lionfish in gebieden waar op hen gejaagd wordt 3 a 4 keer lager is dan elders. Deze resultaten zijn gepubliceerd in het wetenschappelijk tijdschrift “Endangered Species Research” en kan bij Carmabi worden opgevraagd door geïntresseerden.

Om de bestrijding van de invasieve lionfish verder te optimaliseren heeft de Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance in samenwerking met Carmabi gewerkt aan een on-line kaart waarin degenen die zich bezighouden met de bestrijding van lionfish kunnen bijhouden wanneer en op welke plekken zij op lionfish hebben gejaagd en hoeveel lionfish nog aanwezig zijn op dergelijke lokaties. Deze informatie wordt vervolgens op de kaart zichtbaar gemaakt waardoor andere lionfish-bestrijders kunnen zien op welke plekken al gejaagd is en op welke plekken nog veel lionfish aanwezig zijn. Hierdoor kunnen specifieke locaties waar lionfish nog veel voorkomen worden geïdentificeerd en vervolgens bezocht. De website is te vinden op: http://www.lionfishcontrol.org/. Toekomstige gebruikers kunnen een account aanmaken op dezelfde pagina en vervolgens via een simpel systeem lionfish vangsten en data invullen. Deze gegevens van alle deelnemende duikers zullen in korte tijd een beter beeld creeëren van plekken waar lionfish nagenoeg zijn verdwenen en waar nog gejaagd dient te worden. In de nabije toekomst wordt dit systeem verder uitgebreid om iedereen op het eiland in staat te stellen waarnemingen uit de natuur in kaart te brengen en zo bijvoorbeeld ook een beter beeld te krijgen van het aantal zeeschildpadden rondom Curaçao of gebieden waarin gestroopt of vervuild wordt.

DCNA en Carmabi nodigen de duikwereld op Curaçao uit om vanaf nu gebruik te maken van dit nieuwe systeem om zo bij te dragen aan de bestrijding van invasieve soorten op de koraalriffen van het eiland.

Secore workshop on coral rearing 2014

The SECORE Foundation is an international non-profit organization to promote coral reef conservation through research, education, outreach, and restoration. As part of its training and outreach program, SECORE plans to organize three field workshops in 2014.

IMG_3876The goal of the workshop program is to train local stakeholders and a limited number of public aquarium affiliates in coral breeding and restoration techniques, and related disciplines during a 10-day hands-on training workshop. For more information on SECORE’s workshop program, please visit our latest weblog posts at http://www.secore.org/site/newsroom.html or www.secore.org.

The workshop fee for public aquarium affiliates is $1,750 USD covering all costs during the workshop such as accommodation, food, diving, etc. The fee does not cover your airfare.

The dates for Curacao are:  Aug 9 – 19, 2014:

In collaboration with the CARMABI Foundation and the Curacao Sea Aquarium, SECORE has established a coral breeding center in Curacao in 2010. The aim of the center is to develop restoration techniques for endangered Caribbean corals such as the ESA and IUCN listed Elkhorn coral Acropora palmata, and to initiate restoration efforts on the island and elsewhere using the developed techniques. The workshop will be hosted by CARMABI and the Curacao Sea Aquarium during the annual mass spawning event of the Elkhorn coral (Acropora).

Contact: Mike Brittsan Mike.Brittsan@columbuszoo.org

Four Wetlands protected on Curacao under the Ramsar Treaty

The government of the Netherlands has designated four new coastal and near-coastal Wetlands of International Importance on the Netherlands Antilles island of Curaçao, a constitutent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in the Leeward Antilles 70km north of Venezuela. The Netherlands presently has 53 Ramsar Sites, the 5th highest national total after the United Kingdom, Mexico, Spain, and Australia.

Staff of the Carmabi Foundation (Caribbean Research and Management of Biodiversity) in Willemstad were helpful in the preparation of the designation materials. The brief Annotated List site descriptions below were compiled by Ramsar’s Assistant Advisor for Europe, Ms Laura Máiz-Tomé, based on the Ramsar Information Sheets.

Malpais/Sint Michiel. 05/02/2013; Curaçao; 1,100 ha; 12°10’N 069°00’W. Important Bird Area. Malpais is a former plantation just to the north of Sint Michiel. There are two freshwater lakes and the hyper-saline St. Michiel lagoon connected to a bay in which coral reefs are found, surrounded by dry deciduous vegetation and a well-developed woodland habitat. The area provides refugee for many birds, such as the IUCN Red Listed Caribbean coot (Fulica caribaea). The lagoon also supports a significant fraction of the global population of the Common tern (Sterna hirundo) and is part of a regional network of foraging sites for the Caribbean flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), protected under the Convention of Migratory Species. Freshwater is scarce in Curaçao and therefore of great ecological, social and economic value. The dam of Malpais is located downstream. Freshwater infiltrates into the soil, recharging groundwater reservoirs which allow woodlands to grow in the area. Some of the current threats which may affect the ecological character of the site are the landfill and runoff from a pig farm situated only 1km away. Ramsar Site no. 2117. Most recent RIS information: 2013.

Muizenberg. 05/02/2013; Curaçao; 65 ha; 12°09’29″N 068°55’07″W. Important Bird Area; Natural Park. Muizenberg comprises an intermittent shallow lake created by the damming of a stream that drains the surrounding low hills. Periodically inundated grassland and shrubland surround the wetland. A separate small pond, Kaya Fortuna, is situated 200m to the west. This area is internationally significant for its population of the Caribbean coot (Fulica caribaea), near-threatened under the IUCN Red List, and the Caribbean flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) conserved under the Convention of Migratory Species, but it also supports many other waterbirds, both residents and migrants. The Muizenberg dam was built by Shell Curaçao in 1915 to collect freshwater for industrial cooling purposes; with a capacity of 650,000 m3, it represents the largest freshwater reservoir on the island. The area was designated as a Natural Park for the improvement of the urban living conditions of the nearby population and is mainly used by hikers for recreational purposes. Illegal dumping of garbage, pollution, drainage of surrounding wetlands, and recreational disturbance are seen as the main potential threats. A general environmental education programme is being implemented. Ramsar Site no. 2118. Most recent RIS information: 2013.

Northwest Curaçao. 05/02/2013; Curaçao; 2,441 ha; 12°21’11″N 069°05’00″W. Important Bird Area, Natural Parks. The area comprises a great variety of ecosystems such as coral reefs, coastal lagoons with sea grass beds and mangroves, coastal limestone terraces, inland hills supporting evergreen woodland, freshwater dams, natural springs and dry deciduous shrublands. The Ramsar site includes parts of Shete Boka and Christoffel Natural Parks. The wetland covers approximately 20 km of the rocky, wave-exposed north coast of Curaçao, including 10 pocket beaches (bokas) and 3 inland bays that are used as nesting and foraging sites for threatened sea turtle species as Dermochelys coriacea and Eretmochely imbricata. There is also a breeding colony of more than 500 individuals of Least Tern. Moreover, the northwestern coast of Curaçao locally harbours a fringing coral reef, characterized by more than 50% coral cover and the presence of such critically endangered coral species as Acropora palmata and Acropora cervicornis as well as endangered fish species like the Epinephelus itajara. Some of the caves in the area were used for spiritual rituals in the past, and Indian drawings can be found estimated to be more than 5,000 years old. Numerous manmade dams in the area retain freshwater for several months after the wet season has passed. Subterraneous groundwater reservoirs in turn sustain local vegetation types year-round which are used by several bird species, pollinating bats and mammals to survive during Curaçao’s dry season. Ramsar Site no. 2119. Most Recent RIS information: 2013.

Rif-Sint Marie. 05/02/2013. Curaçao; 667 ha; 12°12’16″N 069°03’16″W. Conservation Area, Important Bird Area. The area of Rif-Sint Marie is relatively undisturbed and undeveloped and comprises a salt mash surrounded by mud flats, shrub land, and forests. The marsh is a strategic feeding habitat for flamingos and several waterbirds. The coral reef of Rif-Sint Marie is well developed and shelters several threatened coral species such as Acropora palmata and Acropora cervicornis, as well as such endangered turtle species as Dermochelys coriacea and Eretmochely imbrica and threatened fishes like Goliath grouper Epinephelus itajara. Dense thickets of Elkhorn coral sustain major ecological processes such as gross community calcification and nitrogen fixation; dense populations of this branching species dissipate wave energy and thus protect the coast. The area is currently used for recreational purposes like hiking, biking and guided eco-tours. The major threats to the site are uncontrolled access of visitors with dogs disturbing flamingos and potentially unwise development of touristic infrastructures in the surrounding area. Ramsar Site no. 2120. Most recent RIS information: 2013.

Original post: http://www.ramsar.org/cda/en/ramsar-news-archives-2013-curacao-4/main/ramsar/1-26-45-590%5E26081_4000_0__