Volkskrant: "More tropical sea for the Netherlands. "
Coral reefs, sea grass beds and mangrove woods: the bio diversity of the Netherlands has suddenly and imperceptibly become a lot more exotic. The constitutional reforms of the Dutch Antilles have resulted in the Netherlands acquiring a massive amount of tropical sea: the territorial waters of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba and the islands’ 24 mile zone and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), some 83,000 square kilometres in total, writes the Volkskrant.
That is more than the North sea and the Wadden sea put together (61,000 square kilometres). It contains important ecosystems, such as the Saba bank, a large submarine atoll south of the island. It is more than sixty kilometres long, fringed with coral which functions as the nursery of numberless species of fish in this part of the Caribbean.
The management of these marine ecosystems now falls directly to the Netherlands. As of October 10, the Dutch kingdom is no longer comprised of the Netherlands, The Dutch Antilles and Aruba but of the Netherlands, Curacao, Aruba and Sint Maarten. The three so-called BES islands, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba now have a status comparable to that of an independent local authority within the Netherlands.
Dutch marine researchers are using this territorial extension to combine forces. The Royal Dutch Institute of Marine research and marine research institute Imares in Wageningen have this week set up a common knowledge platform called AgroporaNet which will gather all Dutch research into marine biology.
Research and education
The platform will be aimed at research and education in marine biology, says platform coordinator Johan Stapel. Stapel also hopes to establish a research base on one of the islands. A scientific expedition may also be on the cards.
(This is an unofficial translation)