Saba Bank National Park

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Present briefly the proposed area and its principal characteristics, and specify the objectives that motivated its creation :

The Saba Bank National Park is a unique and highly significant area for the entire region. Biophysically it is a submerged atoll, the largest actively growing atoll in the Caribbean, and one of the largest atolls in the world, measuring 1,850 km2 (above 50m depth contour). The area is significant in terms of its unique ecological, socio-economic, scientific and cultural characteristics. Its extensive coral reefs, fishing grounds and algae beds are very vulnerable to damage from international shipping, in particular anchoring of tankers and other cargo ships.  Large ships also pose a hazard to the artisanal fishery practiced on the Saba Bank. In addition some of the shallowest areas of the Saba Bank pose a hazard to navigation. The area is extremely fragile to damage by international shipping (anchoring) and poses a risk to navigation and fishery in the area. Because of its rich biodiversity that needs protection an dmanagment, the Saba Bank was declared a protected area by the Dutch Government (15 Dec 2010) and an application to IMO has been submitted requesting for a PSSA status for the Bank, a decision is expected in 2013.

Explain why the proposed area should be proposed for inclusion in the SPAW list

The Saba Bank is a an area of regional significance because of its uniquely rich biodiversity, unique geological characteristics (large submerged atoll), and as a source of recruitment for fisheries as well as for biodiversity in the northeastern Caribbean.

The area has been identified as having the greatest diversity of algae species in the Caribbean (Littler et al);

it is bordered on its eastern edge by a 55 km long fringe of coral reefs;

it is presumed to be an important feeding ground for hawksbill and green seaturtles, and

it is an important area for humpback whales and other cetaceans.

Because of its size the Saba Bank National Park presents unique challenges for effective management. The experiences of this management are therefore important to share with the region, while at he same time the area can greatly benefit from regional cooperation.

According to you, to which Criteria it conforms (Guidelines and Criteria B Paragraph 2)

Conservation value
Critical habitats

Cultural and socio-economic criterias

Cultural and traditional use
Socio-economic benefits