Dutch Caribbean Whale Sanctuary this year
Before the end of 2012, the Netherlands will set up a marine mammal sanctuary for whales and dolphins in the Dutch Caribbean waters, recently announced the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation. This is one of the outcomes of a meeting with the neighboring countries of the Dutch Islands in the Caribbean, the French Islands, the USA, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, about the cooperation between whale sanctuaries.
Whales like the humpback whale often migrate thousands of kilometers from cold northern waters in summer to the tropical Caribbean Sea in winter, so that cooperation is necessary for effective protection.
The participants also agreed to examine the possibilities of setting up a regional network of underwater microphones. This will help to map the sounds made by whales and dolphins, and can register noise from among others ships and speed boats. Noise pollution from ships and speed boats disturbs the possibilities for the whales to communicate with each other. The sound equipment makes it possible to responsibly make the whales visible to tourists.
The French 'Agoa' marine mammal sanctuary and the Dutch Caribbean Islands had already been doing research on the marine mammals around the French and Dutch Windward Islands. This collaboration will be continued. As such, joint surveys will be conducted in which a group of researchers will observe in a structured manner where cetaceans such as humpback whales, sperm whales and orcas, are exactly found and in what numbers. This will take place both around the Windward and Leeward Islands.
The meeting, organized by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, an IUCN State Member, took place on 4-5 June 2012 on the St. Maarten Island. The purpose of the meeting was the development of joint initiatives and programs for research and protection of whales and dolphins. The initiative builds on the marine mammal action plan of the regional Protocol for the protection of species and areas, the SPAW (Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife) Protocol.
For more information, please contact Paul C. Hoetjes, Policy Coordinator for Nature at the National Office for the Caribbean Netherlands, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture & Innovation.