Statian waters are officially a sanctuary for sharks and rays, designated Yarari Reserve

Sharks and rays are now fully protected in Statia’s waters, as well as that of the rest of the BES islands. This means sharks or rays caught during fishing expeditions must be released immediately and unharmed.

Regulations implemented by the ministry of agriculture, nature and food quality in July 2023 comprehensively protect sharks and rays, making it illegal to target such species for capture. The regulations designated the territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone around the Statia, Saba and Bonaire, as a nature park under the name, Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary.  These changes have been included in the revised BES fisheries decree.

The primary focus of the Yarari Reserve BES legislation is on preserving the populations of sharks and rays, which play a crucial role in maintaining the health and balance of marine ecosystems. Sharks are apex predators, regulating the populations of other marine species and ensuring the overall health of the ocean. By safeguarding these apex predators, the legislation protects the entire marine ecosystem, including coral reefs and fish populations. Over the last couple of decades, populations of sharks and rays have significantly declined due to human activities. Maintaining healthy shark populations supports fisheries by controlling the populations of prey species that compete with commercially valuable fish. Economically, sharks contribute to the tourism industry through activities such as shark diving and eco-tourism, providing revenue and employment opportunities for the local community.

The official designation can be found at

The implementation decree is available at, and the updated fisheries legislation is at All the information is in Dutch.