Information material on regulations on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna in the wild (also known as the CITES Convention) has been developed for residents and tourists in Bonaire, Saba, and St. Eustatius. Posters, signs, and brochures have been made in four languages (Dutch, English, Papiamentu, and Spanish) by the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) by order of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (ANFQ). In advance of the return of tourists, these materials can be found at the airports and ports, and at the government offices, customs offices, nature park management organisations, diving schools, and hotels throughout the Caribbean Netherlands. In this way, the DCNA and ANFQ want to raise awareness about the protected status of flora and fauna in the Caribbean Netherlands, such as orchids and corals, and the prohibition on picking or taking species just like that.
Conservation of biodiversity
The islands of the Caribbean Netherlands have a rich biodiversity. Many species are endemic to one of the islands, so they cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Almost 200 species living in the wild in the Caribbean Netherlands are protected by CITES. The list includes turtles, iguanas, and birds of prey, as well as various orchids, cacti, whale species, rays, and bird species. The corals these islands are known for, living and dead, are also protected under CITES and can therefore not be taken away. In line with the CITES regulations, stricter local rules and measures may apply to conserve the biodiversity.
What does this mean in practice?
Exporting living and dead species included on the CITES list to another country without a CITES permit – also from the Caribbean Netherlands to the Netherlands and vice versa – is prohibited. These regulations also apply to taking along species or objects as a gift or for one’s own use, such as orchids, cactuses, corals, sea horses, turtles, sharks, iguanas, and birds. The regulations also apply to parts of products made of or from these species, such as food products and exotic leather ware, wooden sculptures, ornaments, musical instruments, and local medicines. In certain cases, exporting species or objects or taking them away is prohibited altogether. Violation of these regulations can lead to penalties and/or legal action.
Check in advance: is it protected?
The mere fact that something is for sale or that you found it on the ground or in the sea, does not mean that you are allowed to take it or that you can travel with it. When in doubt as to whether you can take a species (or a part of a product made of or from this species), you can contact the local CITES authority with the National Office of the Caribbean Netherlands (Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland, RCN), the customs authorities, the public entity, or the local management organisation of the protected nature area.
What is CITES?
CITES is the convention under which the international trade in endangered species of wild flora and fauna is regulated and, if necessary, prohibited for the benefit of conserving the species in the wild. More than 37,000 flora and fauna species are currently protected under the CITES convention. A CITES permit is required for the trade in these species, and sometimes the trade is prohibited altogether because the species is seriously threatened with extinction. The regulations do not only apply to the respective plants and animals but also to parts of these or products made of or from these.
Check the CITES information for the Caribbean Netherlands online:
For more information about CITES: