The Ministry of LNV is responsible for proper management of the commercial fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Caribbean Netherlands and has joint responsibility with the Public Entities for the fisheries in the territorial waters. Fishery management involves cooperation with the other countries of the Kingdom, Curaçao, Aruba, and St. Maarten. This cooperation takes place in the so-called EEZ Committee.

Fishery management plan Caribbean Netherlands

The fishery management plan for the Caribbean Netherlands titled 'Sustainable Fisheries Plan Caribbean Netherlands 2020-2030' is the framework for fishery management in the Caribbean Netherlands. It covers the period 2020-2030 and is part of the Nature and Environmental Policy Plan Caribbean Netherlands 2020-2030. The vision in this plan for the fisheries in the Caribbean Netherlands is "To develop a sustainable and profitable fishery, aimed at conserving the natural environment and ensuring food security in the Caribbean Netherlands, for the benefit of its biodiversity, its residents, the local economy, and future generations.”

Rules and permits

Fishing in the EEZ and fishing with vessels larger than 12 metres in territorial waters in the Caribbean Netherlands is subject to a permit from the Minister of LNV. Vessels fishing with up to four handlines are exempt from this permit requirement. The Public Entities of Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba have the authority to establish additional rules and policies for fishing in territorial waters.

The Fisheries (BES) Act and the Fisheries (BES) Decree contain rules regarding the species that can be fished and the materials that can be fished with. In addition, fishing for certain species is prohibited by virtue of nature legislation and regulations. The EEZ of the Caribbean Netherlands has been designated as the Yarari reserve for marine mammals, sharks, and stingrays. An overview of the legislation and regulations can be found here.

The Fisheries BES Committee advises the Minister on applications for fishing permits and the management of fisheries in the Caribbean Netherlands. The Fisheries BES Committee consists of representatives from each of the three islands, plus an independent chair. The Ministry of LNV runs the secretariat. You can find the summaries of the meetings of this Committee here.

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.