Nature conservation gets a huge boost from the Dutch Postcode Lottery.

On behalf of the parks and nature conservation organisations on Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten, DCNA was proud to receive an annual contribution of Euro 500,000 on from the Lottery at their Goed Geld Gala event, which will be used to help create a sustainable funding future for parks throughout the region and to support regional conservation activities.

On Monday 26th January 2015 the annual Dutch Postcode Lottery Charity Gala (Goed Geld Gala) was held in Amsterdam.
During the charity gala, the lottery proudly announced that thanks to its 2.5 million participants, who bought more than 4 million lottery tickets collectively, a total of 312 million euros will be distributed to non-governmental organisations in 2015.

The Dutch Postcode Lottery has been raising funds since 1989 to support organisations working towards a fairer and greener world. Fifty percent of the lottery’s annual turnover goes to charity. The lottery has steadily grown to become the biggest charity lottery in the Netherlands and supports 92 non-governmental organisations. Since its founding, the lottery has dispensed over 4.4 billion euros to its beneficiaries.

Responding to a plea from local marine parks to “help us save our sharks”, the Dutch Postcode Lottery this year also approved a Special Project for Euro 1,662,550 for a three year project to work with local communities, fishermen and researchers on conservation for our threatened shark populations.

Tadzio Bervoets, Manager of the Man of War Shoals on St. Maarten commented, “All of us who work with these majestic creatures are unbelievably excited and appreciative of the Dutch Postcode Lottery for this significant and important contribution. Not only for shark conservation on our islands but also within the region, where much work is being done to understand these majestic and important creatures and the role that they play in the health of our oceans and the sustainability of the island communities that depend on the sea. All of the Marine Parks in the Dutch Caribbean have put shark conservation and educating the public on the importance of sharks as a top priority and with this significant boost we will be able to better understand these wonderful creatures and educate our communities on their beauty and their majesty.”

Shark conservation work is already firmly underway on St. Maarten, where the Government banned the killing of sharks in its waters for the coming decade and where the Nature Foundation is already running a shark tagging programme to collect valuable information on local sharks. Shark monitoring was kick started in 2014 on Saba, and the Saba Conservation Foundation is engaging a public awareness campaign to demystify sharks and explain the important role they have in our seas.

“Worldwide over 100 million sharks are killed every year as a result of fishing and shark finning activities. Sharks are simply being driven to the brink of extinction by our ignorance and greed. With this funding from the Lottery, working closely with local communities, we want to be able to learn all we can about our sharks and create safe havens for them in the Dutch Caribbean.” said Kalli De Meyer, Executive Director of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance.

Kai Wulf, Parks Director for the Saba Conservation Foundation said, “This support could not have come at a more opportune time, elevating our shark conservation efforts to the highest level. The excitement of now being able to really have an impact, besides preaching appreciation for these beautiful species as a keystone of a healthy Caribbean sea our livelihoods depend on, yet allowing us to learn more about them and to promote better protection measures, is quickly becoming very contagious.”

For the past decade, the Ministry of the Interior, the Dutch Postcode Lottery and the park management organisations on each island have been staunchly committed to the capitalization of a conservation Trust Fund, which aims to support basic management of one terrestrial and marine protected area on each island of the Dutch Caribbean. The idea of setting up conservation trust funds is not new and amongst others is now being promoted by The Nature Conservancy through their “Caribbean Challenge” initiative.

Despite daily difficulties many parks currently face due to a chronic shortage of funding, park management organisations have consistently opted to invest in a long term sustainable funding future for nature conservation on our islands rather than using funds to solve short term needs.