[Coral-List] St. Maarten Man of War Shoal Marine Park Established, St Maarten Nature Foundation signs Management Agreement

tadzio Bervoets tadziob at gmail.com
Sat Aug 20 09:48:28 EDT 2011

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*Minister Meyers Signs Management Agreement with St. Maarten Nature
Foundation for Management of Man of War Shoal Marine Park*

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - On Friday the 19th of August the Minister of
Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication the Honourable Mr.
Franklin Meyers took the historical step in marine environmental protection..
The Minister signed the Management Contract between Country St. Maarten and
the St. Maarten Nature Foundation for the management of the Man of War Shoal
Marine Park.****

The boundaries of the ****Marine** **Park**** are between 18̊ ̊N and 17
̊-57.0 N and 63 ̊-01.03 W and 63 ̊-04.05 W, is in an area better known as
“the Proselyte Reef Complex ".  This area includes the island’s most
ecologically and economical important marine habitat, including extensive
coral reef areas and sea grass beds. ****

This area was chosen to be a priority for official conservation because of
its intrinsic ecological, economic and cultural value. The Man of War Shoal
Marine Park is a home and migratory stop over or breeding site for 3 IUCN
Red List Species, 10 CITES Appendix I species and 89 Appendix II species. It
is an area with a relatively healthy population of marine mammals including
migratory whales and dolphins, numerous species of shark, sea turtles and
numerous fish species. ****

Studies conducted by the St. Maarten Nature Foundation have shown that
biodiversity in this area, particularly coral reef density, is high and the
economic goods and services which the ecosystem provides are in excess of
fifty million dollars annually. The establishing of the Man of War Shoal
Marine Park is also in accordance with the Specially Protected Areas of
Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol and with the Federal Decree on Maritime Management..

An economic valuation study of St. Maarten’s coral reef ecosystem has placed
the monetary value at close to US$58 million in contributions to the economy
of the country from tourism and fisheries.  The Minister of Economic Affairs
says the contributions made is very important especially the dive tourism
sector and eco-tourism which is a priority area for Government.  The
Minister added that the signing of the agreement with the Nature Foundation
demonstrates Governments commitment to the environment and the beginning of
more to come with respect to nature conservation.****

Minister Meyers says the island is rich in natural resources above and below
the water and that the trend will be to work closely with stakeholders in
developing additional nature conservation areas that will protect areas for
current and future generations to enjoy and which also is a plus for the
promotion of the island as a tourist destination especially eco-tourism.  **

Previous plans to develop a ****Marine** **Park**** for St. Maarten were too
complex by design which led to discontent with various stakeholders,
especially fishermen who saw their traditional fishing grounds being
encroached upon. Through various consultations and meetings between the
various stakeholders it was decided to implement Marine Conservation on St.
Maarten in stages, of which the establishment of the Man of War Shoal Marine
Park is the first and most important step.****

“We have been working very hard for a very long time to realize Marine
Environmental Protection for St. Maarten, and now, with the hard work and
guidance of the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and
Telecommunications, and through the appointment of the Honourable Minister
Meyers, Country St. Maarten has its first National Park, a protected area
which will not only seek to protect natural marine habitat but which will
also enhance St. Maarten as an environmentally sustainable tourism product”,
commented Nature Foundation Marine Park Manager Tadzio Bervoets.****

** **

The biodiversity of St. Maarten waters has been steadily degrading over the
last four decades. The “eleventh hour” so to speak, has come and gone. The
man of War Shoal Marine Park also has significant economic importance as
diving in Marine Parks is globally on the rise and generally accepted by the
diving tourist as a “must do” vacation activity. With proper protection and
management in place the establishing of a Marine Protected Area will add
additional value to the countries tourism product. Local fisheries will also
be enhanced through environmental protection. Research has shown that Marine
Protected Areas increase fish populations and fish size of commercial
species in nearby fishing grounds. ****

With the official appointment of the Nature Foundation as the Management
Authority for the **Marine** **Park** the Foundation will be able to collect
user fees for the Management of the ****Marine** **Park**** and will also be
able to increase its research, law enforcement and patrolling activities. In
the past the Nature Foundation used to act as the unofficial authority for
the **Marine** **Park** but now the organization will have the opportunity
to levy fines in case of infringements of the laws pertaining to the **
Marine** **Park** with regards to illegal fishing and other illegal
activities within the ****Marine** **Park****.****

As mentioned the Man of War Shoal Marine Park also includes Proselyte Reef,
which was named after the HMS Proselyte, a 32 gun frigate which struck the
“man of War Shoal” on September 4th 1801. Artefacts such as large anchors,
cannons, barrel hoops, cannon balls, and pottery are still evident on this
popular St. Maarten Dive site.  The site is also considered a Marine
Archaeological treasure.****

Efforts to establish a Marine Protected area for St. Maarten were started by
the Nature Foundation upon its founding in 1997. After a considerable length
of time during which numerous stakeholder consultations, meetings and
deliberations were held, this important first step has been taken by the
Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunications of new
country St. Maarten. ****

The Nature Foundation would like to acknowledge the help and support of the
Honourable Minister Franklin Meyers and his Cabinet, Mr. Miguel de Weever,
Mr. Lou Halley, Mr. Mike Stamm, Mr. Len Dijkstra, Mrs. Lucy Gibbs, Mr. Eddy
Johnson, the VROMI Department, Mr. Keith Franka, Ms. Olivia Lake, the late
Mr. Joseph Vliegen, the late Mrs. Marjolijn Richardson, Andy Caballero, Paul
Ellinger, Beverly Nisbeth, Robbie Cijntje, current Board Members and of
course the dedicated staff of the St. Maarten Nature Foundation. ****

The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) has been a continuous source of
support and a resourceful partner of the St. Maarten Nature Foundation and
has contributed greatly towards the realization of Nature Conservation in
general and Marine Conservation more specifically for the island.  In the
coming weeks the St. Maarten Nature Foundation will launch a broad based
information campaign explaining to the citizens of St. Maarten about their
newly established Man of War Shoal Marine Park.****

# # #****

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Nature Foundation St Maarten****

****P.O. Box** 863**
St. Maarten
**Dutch West Indies**
Tel:  (599) 544-4267
Fax: (599) 544-4268
manager at naturefoundationsxm.org


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Tadzio Bervoets
St. Maarten Nature Foundation
Cole Bay
St. Maarten
Netherlands Antilles

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