Tourism, Fishing and Sustainability: Three sides of Curaçao

We are approaching the end of a frenetic week of filming for our documentary about coral reefs and Curaçao. Thursday was packed with interesting interviews spanning a range of topics.

The perspectives of the fisherman Robert Edwin Flameling and Brenda Benjamin from the Tourism Bureau are to some extent at odds with the desires of the scientists and environmental officials. Benjamin said that the island doesn’t have enough hotels, given that tourism flow in Curaçao is increasing and the sector is expected to thrive in January and February of next year.

Flameling took the biologist Aaron Hartmann and Professor Revkin out well before dawn, returned to the dock with three small tuna — representing only enough income to pay for the diesel fuel burned in seeking them. He expressed anger about the runaway coastal development all around the bay where he keeps his boat, about competition from industrial fishing fleets and supermarkets selling frozen imported seafood. And he was skeptical about discussions aimed at establishing the island’s first “no fish” zones.

curacao tuna catch

Aaron Hartmann, who is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, and Ayana Elizabeth Johnson of the Waitt Institute both presented hopeful, but realistic visions of sustained coral ecosystems, built on working with fishermen, divers and officials to develop a consensus when comes to “using the seas without using them up” – Johnson’s Waitt Institute motto.

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