Tuesday, August 25th, Bonaire – On Thursday, August 27, 2015, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB), Stichting Nationale Parken Bonaire (STINAPA) and WWF-NL will argue an appeal at the Joint Court of Justice. The appeal focuses on how permits for development activities within the Bonaire National Marine Park are assessed.
The hearing will focus on the application of the assessment framework of the Maritime Management Act BES by Rijkswaterstaat (RWS), which is the executive agency of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, responsible for the Dutch main road network, the main waterway network, the main water systems, and the environment in which they are embedded. The hearing will also discuss the importance of applying the precautionary principle in those assessments
Last year the Court of First Instance ruled in favor of STCB, STINAPA and WWF-NL when the judge annulled the permit that was granted by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, for a proposed construction (pier) in Bonaire’s Marine Protected Area (MPA). The judge ruled that the Dutch Ministry failed to show the necessary argumentation to back-up its decision to issue this permit and to counter the advice STINAPA, the organization that is responsible for the management of the Bonaire National Marine Park.
The judge also ruled that the assessment of interests, as laid out in maritime legislation, has a limited scope. Plaintiffs (STCB, STINAPA and WWF-NL) will argue during Thursday’s appeal that the legislature never intended such a narrow interpretation, and that, in fact, it is essential for the Dutch Ministry to apply other values, including the precautionary principle, in its assessment.
“There are of course other values that must be considered when the Ministry rules on uses of publicly-held assets like the marine environment,” said Johan Afman in 2014, in his former capacity as STINAPA Director. “These range from weighing the effects on human health, to the economic value of marine ecosystems versus commercial structures, the responsibility to safeguard marine protected areas, public interest versus private commercial interest, and treaty requirements.”
“STCB, STINAPA and WWF-NL argue that a narrow interpretation leads to a far too limited assessment of all the values involved. The BES Maritime Management Act is relatively new… it’s very important that the Act is interpreted according to its purpose: that of protecting the natural resources of the BES islands to ensure healthy, sustainable economies.”
The case will be heard at the Court of Justice, Fort Oranje, Plasa Reina Wilhelmina in Kralendijk, Bonaire on Thursday 27th of August at 11:30 a.m. It is open to the public.