The 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is among the most powerful wildlife treaties in the world. With 120 member nations worldwide, the most recent being Korea, it has been very effective at reducing international commerce in endangered and depleted species, including their parts and products. Appendix I lists endangered species (including all species of sea turtle), trade in which is tightly controlled; Appendix II lists species that may become endangered unless trade is regulated; Appendix III lists species that any Party wishes to regulate and requires international cooperation to control trade; Appendix IV contains model permits. Permits are required for species listed in appendices I and II stating that export/import will not be detrimental to the survival of the species. The Netherlands ratified the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) on 18 July 1984, but Aruba is not yet a signatory.
In the interim before CITES is formally signed by Aruba, parts of the provisions of the treaty are executed by the Import and Export of Animals and Plants Decree (Landsbesluit in‑ en Uitvoerverbod Bedreigde Dieren en Planten, AB 1991, No. 102). As this Recovery Action Plan goes to press, legislation to fully implement CITES has been submitted to the National Advisory Council, the final administrative step before approval. Aruba (represented by Alexander Koolman, Customs Officer; Sylvester Vrolijk, LVV; and Theo Wools, Veterinary Service) attended the Caribbean CITES Implementation Training Seminar held in Trinidad, 14‑18 September 1992. This comprehensive seminar, hosted by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and the CITES Secretariat, was convened to familiarize Eastern Caribbean governments, especially non‑CITES parties, with the Convention. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that Customs officials and other relevant parties be fully supported at all levels of Government in their important and difficult task of implementing the provisions of the CITES treaty.
4.32 Regional treaties
UNEP's Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (Cartagena Convention) is the best treaty currently in place for the protection of sea turtles on a regional scale. The Convention is coupled with an Action Plan, known as the Action Plan for the Caribbean Environment Programme (APCEP). The First Intergovernmental Meeting on APCEP was convened by UNEP in cooperation with the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA) in Montego Bay, Jamaica, 6‑8 April 1981. The representatives of Governments from 22 States in the region, including the Netherlands, adopted APCEP at this meeting and established the Caribbean Trust Fund to support common costs and activities associated with the implementation of the Action Plan.
In March, 1983, a Conference of Plenipotentiaries met in Cartagena, Colombia to negotiate the Convention. Representatives from 16 States participated, including the Netherlands. The Conference adopted both the Convention and a Protocol concerning cooperation in combating oil spills in the region. The Convention describes the responsibilities of Contracting Parties to "prevent, reduce and control" pollution from a variety of sources (i.e., pollution from ships, from at‑sea dumping of waste, from land‑based sources, from sea‑bed activities, and from airborne sources). Article 10 is of special interest, urging Contracting Parties to "individually or jointly, take all appropriate measures to protect and preserve rare or fragile ecosystems, as well as the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species, in the Convention area." The Netherlands ratified the Convention on 16 April 1984.
In January 1990, a Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the Cartagena Convention was adopted by a Conference of Plenipotentiaries, providing a mechanism whereby species of wild fauna and flora could be protected on a regional scale. The landmark Protocol grants explicit protection to species listed in three categories, or annexes. Annex I includes species of flora exempt from all forms of destruction or disturbance. Annex II ensures total protection and recovery to listed species of fauna, with minor exceptions. Specifically, Annex II listing prohibits (a) the taking, possession or killing (including, to the extent possible, the incidental taking, possession or killing) or commercial trade in such species, their eggs, parts or products, and (b) to the extent possible, the disturbance of such species, particularly during breeding, incubation, estivation, migration, and other periods of biological stress. Annex III denotes species in need of "protection and recovery", but subject to regulated harvest.
On 11 June 1991, Plenipotentiaries again met in Kingston, Jamaica, to formally adopt the Annexes. The Conference voted unanimously to include all six species of sea turtle inhabiting the Wider Caribbean (i.e., Carettacaretta, Cheloniamydas, Eretmochelysimbricata, Dermochelyscoriacea, Lepidochelyskempi, and L. olivacea) in Annex II (UNEP, 1991; Eckert, 1991). The unanimous vote on this issue is a clear statement on the part of Caribbean governments that the protection of regionally depleted species, including sea turtles, is a priority. It is a strong recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the Kingdom of the Netherlands, for Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles, ratify the SPAW Protocol and its annexes, and that the Government of Aruba adopt enabling legislation to implement the provisions of the treaty at the earliest possible opportunity.
Another international treaty important to the survival of sea turtles in regional waters is MARPOL 1973 (with Protocol 1978). This Convention has five Annexes that give detailed technical specifications regarding the way in which a ship must be built and equipped to prevent major pollution of the marine environment in case of accidents, and also norms and technical requirements to minimize operational discharges. The five Annexes are for oil, chemicals in bulk, packaged chemicals, liquid sewage, and garbage. Regarding Annex 5 (garbage), it has been proposed to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) by the nations of the Caribbean that the Caribbean Region be declared a "Special Area". This proposal has been accepted, but will only come into force when the nations have put in place the facilities to receive garbage on shore. The 1993 Prevention of Pollution by Ships Ordinance (Landsverordening ter Voorkoming Verontreiniging Door Schepen, AB 1993) implements MARPOL, but an effective date cannot be established until shore‑based reception facilities are put in place.
4.33 Subregional sea turtle management
Sea turtle stocks in Bonaire and Curaçao (Netherlands Antilles), as well as in Venezuela and Colombia, are surely shared with those in Aruba. Compatible legal protection should be encouraged in order to prevent illegal trade between nations and burdensome enforcement problems which arise when proximal nations disagree on how best to manage migrating species. In addition, it does not make good long‑term management sense to protect sea turtles in the waters of one nation if they continue to be exploited in the waters or on the beaches of another nation. Conformity with regard to the protection of sea turtles will eventually be achieved with the ratification by nations throughout the region of the SPAW Protocol (section 4.32). Joint marine sanctuaries might be proposed to safeguard not only shared turtle resources, but also common marine resources in general. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that full advantage be taken of the existing quad‑lateral committee ("Consultative Mechanism: Working Group on the Environment") currently working on mechanisms for cooperation between the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles, Aruba and Venezuela in implementing CITES and other regional marine environmental legislation.