The debate at the News Cafe erupted right from the start of the evening on January 27th 2023 at the Terramar Museum. Three panel members and the audience discussed the balance between the sea as a protected heritage and as a motor of the economy. Several points were discussed, but it was clear that cooperation between parties and the active participation of the local community are essential in preserving Bonaire’s cultural heritage and natural assets.
This event was organized as part of several activities organized by WWF-NL and Terramar Museum for the upcoming two years. These organizations want everyone to have pride and respect for the ocean with the ultimate goal to protect the ocean. Panel members Elvis Martinus, Emma Pratt and Liliane de Geus shared their most valuable memories of the sea before the debate. The audience could then ask questions and give their opinion.
The public unanimously agreed that the balance between economic activities and nature conservation can be restored by also applying the knowledge of the local community. The combination of local knowledge and science can make all the difference. Elvis Martinus: “Traditionally, Bonaireans only extract what they need from nature.” The norms and values of the island must be passed on to the youth, but this must also be promoted among tourists.
Moreover, Liliane de Geus emphasized the impact of social changes. Certain protective measures were abolished when it was decided to make Bonaire a special municipality of the Netherlands. “Our voice is no longer there, we allow others to speak for us.” said de Geus. Collaboration is important and Piskabon is a successful example of this, says Emma Pratt. This cooperative involves fishermen who have generations of knowledge with the aim to make the fishing industry more sustainable and nature more resilient.