Some animal and plant species are protected by international agreements.
In addition, the local government may designate protected species. The species that are important for reef fishermen are listed below. For the full list of protected species, refer to the "Information Sheet protected species" on the public entity Bonaire website (www.bonairegov.com).
All whales, dolphins, sharks, rays and sea turtles that may be found in the waters of Bonaire are protected by treaties (international agreements). All the soft and hard corals are also protected. In fact, the entire underwater park and all that is in it is protected, alive or dead.
In the underwater park, except for the two fish reserves, fish may be fished with traditional fishing gear. However, a number of fish and other marine animals are protected according to international and local law. Most of the mentioned fishes occur on the red list of endangered species of the World Conservation Union (IUCN). It concerns CR (critically endangered), category EN (endangered) or category vulnerable (VU) categories. The government is more or less obliged by the international community to protect these fishes.
Parrot fish are protected because of their ecological importance. They play a key role in the ecosystem. Parrot fish are grazers needed to keep our coral reefs free from algae. Groupers are getting rarer and are at the top of the food chain. They also have a touristic value, like the sea turtles, sharks and rays.
Lobsters are overfished. Separate management measures are required to maintain and improve the lobster numbers. Lobsters may only be caught between 1 November and 30 April. And only along the east coast between Malmok and the Willemstoren. A lobster whose head and trunk together (carapax) is less than 12 cm may not be captured or killed. Also egg bearing lobsters must not be caught or killed, for obvious reasons. The Conch/Karko is on the list because this mollusc is also overfished.
Locally protected sea creatures & Fishes
● Balistes vetula, pishiporko rabu di gai, koningstrekkervis, queen triggerfish ● Dermatolepis inermis, olitu, zeebaars, marbled grouper ● Epinephelus itajara, djufes, itajara, Goliath grouper, jewfish ● Epinephelus striatus, jakupepu, Nassau tandbaars, Nassau grouper ● Lachnolaimus maximus, hòkfes, everlipvis, hogfish ● Lutjanus analis, kapitán, snapper, mutton snapper ● Lutjanus cyanopterus, karaña, snapper, cubera snapper ● Scaridae, gutu, papegaaivissen, parrotfishes ● Thunnus obesus, buni wowo grandi, grootoogtonijn, bigeye tuna
Invertebrates ● Panulirus argus, kref, kreeft, Caribbean spiny lobster ● Panulirus guttatus, kref, gevlekte kreeft, spotted spiny lobster ● Panulirus laevicauda, kref, kreeft, smoothtail spiny lobster
● Strombus gigas, karkó, grote kroonslak, queen conch