The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality is responsible for the proper management of fisheries in the exclusive economic area (EEA) around the islands and, together with the island authorities is responsible for the territorial waters.

In order to be able to better coordinate catch capacity and fisheries opportunities, it must be examined whether additional measures are necessary. This is done based on an inventory of fish stocks, fishermen and fishing vessels, which has been carried out for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and the Saba Bank. Measures include the registration and issuing of fishing permits.

Measures are also taken to ensure that third parties cannot use the islands as a transhipment site for illegally caught tuna. The minister is advised on this by the Fisheries Commission BES, consisting of representatives from each of the three islands, plus an independent chairman, who assesses applications for fishing permits.

In the management of fisheries, there is also cooperation with the other Kingdom countries in the Caribbean, through a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA). In addition to the Caribbean Netherlands, the Netherlands and Curaçao have also signed this MoA. Aruba and St. Maarten have indicated that they also want to sign. Under this MoA, a committee consisting of representatives from each of the signatory islands and countries advises on the management of marine biodiversity and fishing in the EEZ waters and the Territorial Waters around the islands. 

Legislation and regulations

Fisheries management is regulated in the Fisheries Act BES and the Fisheries Decree BES. Under this legislation, all vessels longer than 12m require a permit to fish. Outside the Territorial Waters of the islands, smaller vessels also need a fishing permit. Applications for fishing permits are handled by the Fishing Commission BES. Applications can be submitted via the member of the Fishing Commission of the island concerned. 

In addition to the permit requirement, the Fisheries Act BES and the Fisheries Decree BES also regulate the details of the vessel that can be used for fishing and set rules on the minimum sizes for certain fish species.

The various islands have also introduced additional regulations for fisheries in the marine parks in a number of cases. Furthermore, they have requested the Minister to establish specific rules per island for the territorial waters via an order in council.

In 2017, LNV commissioned a thorough evaluation of the composition of fisheries regulations in order to identify any gaps and to link up with the regional fishing regulations. A proposal to adjust the regulations will be formulated from this.

The Fisheries Commission BES deliberates on all these matters and meets twice a year. The summary of this meeting can be found at the bottom of this page.