It is with great and profound sadness that we have to say good-bye to Paul Hoetjes, a legend in nature conservation in the Dutch Caribbean and cofounder of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA). Paul Hoetjes passed away on the 13th of November 2020.
Paul’s passing was a shock for his loved-ones with many of them being part of the Dutch Caribbean nature conservation world. Paul was known as a gentle, kindhearted gentleman who provided a great contribution to many regional nature conservation initiatives, particularly in the field of coral reefs, sea turtles and marine mammals. He was a mentor to many, who greatly benefited from his insights, advices and support over the years.
Paul moved to Curaçao from Indonesia with his family as a young child. He gained a biology degree at University of Amsterdam (UvA) and became active in coral reef conservation shortly after returning to Curaçao to work in the island’s sea aquarium.
Paul retired in the beginning of 2020 after a twenty-year career as nature policy coordinator in the Dutch Caribbean, working for the Central Government of the Netherlands Antilles out of Curaçao from 1998 to 2010 and from 2010 to 2020 for the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV), stationed on Bonaire, working for the Caribbean Netherlands. During these years he was responsible for the formulation and implementation of national nature policy for the islands, embodied in the Nature Policy of the Netherlands Antilles 2000-2005, the Nature and Environment Policy Plan of the Netherlands Antilles 2004-2007, the Nature Policy Plan for the Caribbean Netherlands 2013-2017 and lastly the Nature and Environment Policy Plan for the Caribbean Netherlands 2020-2030.
Paul was involved in many conservation initiatives. He was amongst others central in creation of the DCNA in 2005, a regional network of protected areas set up to help and assist the park management organizations on the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten. Paul contributed in countless ways to environmental policy, education, management and establishment of protected areas in the Dutch Caribbean. Some of Paul’s many achievements were the formation of the Marine Mammal Protected Areas Network and the designation of the Saba Bank as an internationally recognized marine protected area, the establishment of the Yarari Sanctuary for marine mammals & sharks in the waters of the Caribbean Netherlands and the Mount Scenery National Park.
Paul was actively involved in various regional and international multilateral environmental agreements, such as a delegate to the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol, the Inter-American Convention for the protection of Sea Turtles (IAC), the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) and Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network Caribbean Initiative (GCRMNCaribbean).
Paul’s great expertise, dedication to conservation and continuous efforts to promote co-operation for the benefit of nature and society made him contributory to the state of nature and conservation in the region.
The DCNA expresses their deepest condolences to Paul’s family, friends and colleagues. “Paul Hoetjes will be remembered and sorely missed. We sincerely thank him for his kindness and valuable contribution in safeguarding nature for generations to come within the Dutch Caribbean.” Tadzio Bervoets, Director DCNA.