(16 October 1996)
Venezuela has announced the designation of four new sites for the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, effective as of 4 September 1996. With Cuare, these bring to five the total number of sites in Venezuela, which joined the Convention in 1988. The new sites are --
Los Olivitos (in Zulia state, 26,000 hectares) is an estuarine system with sandy beaches and coastal sand dunes, saline lagoons and salt flats, brackish lagoons and marshes and mangroves swamps. It is one of the largest natural salt flats along the entire north coast of South America. Salt extraction, shrimp farming and traditional fishing are the main activities in this Ramsar site.
Tacarigua (Miranda state, 9,200 hectares) is a permanent shallow (1.5 m max) saline lagoon separated from the sea by a series of sand barriers and connected to the sea by a tidal channel. It is surrounded by mangroves and also receives freshwater from several streams and small rivers. It supports local subsistence fishing and woodcutting and is important for tourism, especially along the sand bars.
Restinga (Nueva Esparta state, 5,248 hectares), a shallow saline lagoon on Isla Margarita, is surrounded by extensive mangroves and saline flats and separated from the sea by a sand barrier and connected to it by a tidal channel. Very important for local fishing, it also attracts some tourism.
Los Roques (Federal District, 213,220 hectares) is an archipelago of numerous small islands and cays with fringing mangroves and extensive coral reefs (including 57 different species identified so far) and seagrass beds (with Thalassia testudinum and Syringodium filiformis). There is local traditional fishing and some tourism, and an active marine biology research station "Dos Mosquises" operates from one of the cays. It is one of the few Ramsar sites composed predominantly of coral reef.
-- reported by Montserrat Carbonell, Ramsar Technical Officer for the Neotropics