New environmental regulations to protect fragile flora and fauna

A new system of environmental regulations will apply to companies, governments, and related organizations in Saba, St. Eustatius, and Bonaire from the 1st of April 2024. These regulations are a further step in the joint efforts of the Netherlands and the islands to better protect island habitats and, in particular, vulnerable coral ecosystems.

The new regulations are laid down in the BES Housing, Urban Planning and Environmental Management Act (Wet volkshuisvesting, ruimtelijke ordening en milieubeheer – Wet VROM BES) and the BES Establishments and Activities Decree (Inrichtingen- en Activiteitenbesluit BES – IAB BES). The IAB BES requires the Executive Councils in Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius to establish a monitoring and enforcement policy. Annual reports on the achievement of the selected objectives and priorities will be submitted to the Island Councils and the Secretary of State for

Infrastructure and Water Management.

For example, new activities near sensitive natural habitats will be subject to environmental impact assessment (EIA) requirements. There will also be modern and enforceable environmental regulations for businesses on the islands.

Local circumstances

The IAB BES differentiates companies based on their environmental impact. General regulations apply to companies that have a low to moderate impact on the environment. They include garages, resorts, and construction companies.

Companies with higher environmental impacts, such as landfills and rock crushers, will be required under the IAB BES to apply for environmental permits. The general regulations will be further specified in Ordinances issued by the island governments based on the principles of the IAB BES. The islands are therefore free to decide how to interpret the general regulations and consider what works best in local circumstances.


For example, the IAB’s general regulations require garage operators to ensure that substances hazardous to the soil are only used when working on continuous soil protection surfaces and that leakage of these substances is prevented. The island governments can issue Ordinances to specify the specific rules to be implemented. For example, they may specify procedures for rapid clean-up of spills involving substances hazardous to soil and requirements for a continuous soil protection surface (e.g. concrete floor or drip tray).

There will also be a number of rules to protect the fragile marine environment. For example, untreated sewage may not be discharged into the sea.


The IAB is the result of collaboration among local authorities, the central government, and environmental services. This collaboration will continue over the coming period in the form of a program to improve licensing, monitoring, and enforcement concerning the physical environment.

The IAB will be phased in starting on the 1st of April 2024. The phased implementation will give affected businesses and organizations sufficient time to make the necessary investments in equipment required for compliance, such as oil separators and grease traps.

State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen (Environment) notes: “It is good that the IAB is now up and running and that it establishes clear rules to ensure better protection of the environment in Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius. The Dutch Special Municipalities have a wealth of nature reserves, such as Bonaire Marine Park, Washington Slagbaai National Park, St. Eustatius National Parks and Saba National Parks. These resources constitute an abundance of natural capital, which deserves to be nurtured and protected. That’s where these new regulations are going to help.”


Police report of Monday, the 25th of March until Wednesday, the 3th of April 2024
New students General Investigation Officer of the KMar

One comment

  1. Oei, this regulation will be a great challenge for the garages on Saba.
    The cost of upgrading their workplace to meet this new law will be significant.
    In the end, we all have to pay for this.
    Kees Jansen

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