Island Marine

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PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Dutch frigate HNLMS De Zeven Provincien, intercepted more than 320 kilo of drugs last week in het middle of the Caribbean Sea, between Venezuela and Jamaica.

This action took place in the  framework  of the international counter-drugs operation  Carib Venture,  led by the Commander Netherlands Forces  in the Caribbean.

After receiving a notification of a patrol aircraft of the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard of a suspect ‘go-fast’, HNLMS  Zeven Provinciën sailed to the designated location  for  interception.

The Belgian helicopter Alouette III, was launched to detect and stop the suspicious vessel.

Upon arrival of the frigate, the crew of the go-fast surrendered. The packages that were thrown overboard, were taken out of the water by the crew of HNLMS De Zeven Provincien.

A combination of marihuana, hash and MDMA (to make XTC) was found in them. The US Law Enforcement Detachment that is embarked on the Dutch warship, took the suspect crew into custody.

This is the fourth interception by HNLMS De Zeven Provincien. Earlier this year they intercepted 850 kg cocaine and 400 kg marihuana.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Michele M. Paige of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association along with the 19 member cruise alliance updated the Parliament of St. Maarten Monday on the state of affairs of the Cruise Industry.

Michele Paige was the first speaker and she told Parliament about the expansion plans of the FCCA and the fact that they are projecting an increase in passenger travels of up to 24million.

She also told parliament that 9 news ships will be launched. In this environment it will be important for St. Maarten to refresh and reinvent the product that it offers.

Unfortunately the island is now expected to suffer a 22% decrease in cruise passenger arrivals this year.

It is projected that the island will only receive 1.4 million passengers this year.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – At least 21 people died when a boat sank in Haitian waters amid heavy rains, media reported, citing sources.

Rescue teams started recovering bodies of the shipwreck victims on Sunday, according to the EFE news agency. The boat was reportedly en route from Gonaives in northern Haiti to Bombardopolis, when the incident happened.

It is not known exactly how many people were on board the vessel, the media reported.

According to Haiti’s Civil Protection officials some of the survivors of the shipwreck have been hospitalised. The national maritime service is continuing the search for survivors and the recovery of bodies from the shipwreck area, the media reported.

Such incidents are common in Haiti during the rainy season. According to the Haitian Civil Protection, in the past two weeks, 28 people died as a result of the adverse weather conditions.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The survivors of 33 sailors may finally get some answers into why the El Faro cargo ship sank in the Atlantic last October. Investigators say they located the critical data recorder early Tuesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board says crews located the recorder 15,000 feet beneath the surface. Officials are figuring out how to recover the device, which records conversations, among other things.

Officials resumed the search last week with advanced sonar and imaging systems.

“Finding an object about the size of a basketball almost three miles under the surface of the sea is a remarkable achievement,” NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart said.

Given that the data recorder has been submerged for seven months, value of the data is in question. The so-called “black box” may help answer many lingering questions about what happened to the ship during the final hours before it sank.

The 40-year-old U.S.-flagged El Faro was headed to Puerto Rico from Jacksonville, Florida, and went missing near the Bahamas on October 1 with 33 people on board. The ship’s 28 American crew members and five Polish nationals are presumed dead.

The owners of El Faro said the captain had a “sound plan” to avoid Hurricane Joaquin, but the ship’s main propulsion failed, stranding the crew in the path of the Category 4 storm.

The wreckage of the nearly 800-foot container ship was located in late October. It was in 15,000 feet of water near its last known position near Crooked Island.

According to the NTSB, it was found in an upright position with the stern buried in about 30 feet of sediment. The bridge and the deck below, however, had separated and were not with the rest of the vessel.

The fact that the bridge separated was a chilling scenario to those in the industry.

“I’m pretty sure it happened very quickly and very violently,” Larry Legere, a ship captain based in Portland, Maine, said of the El Faro’s sinking. “If it was enough to rip the bridge right off that ship, it was a very violent end, and probably why they didn’t recover any survivors.”

The U.S. Coast Guard in February opened public hearings into the disaster.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Last Friday, the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard donated a vessel to the Sea Rescue Foundation (SRF).

The boat, a RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) was previously used as the fast interceptor of the cutter Poema and was transported with the HNLMS Pelikaan from the Dutch Navy from Curaçao.

The director of SRF, mr. Frans Nieuwenhoven received the vessel from the Coast Guard Substation on St. Maarten.

SRF is a volunteer organization that works with the Coast Guard in Search and Rescue operations.

BELIZE CITY, Belize – The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) this week sealed an agreement with a UN agency to strengthen governance arrangements for the flyingfish fishery in the Caribbean, with special emphasis on maximising the long-term potential of the fishery, which employs several thousands in the region and feeds many more.

Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM, signed the Memorandum of Agreement for Caribbean States; while Kirk Bayabos, Senior Cluster Manager, signed on behalf of the project executing agency, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), a subsidiary of the UN.

The agreement is under a five-year umbrella project, the UNDP/GEF Catalysing Implementation of the Strategic Action Programme for the Sustainable Management of shared Living Marine Resources in the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems (CLME+) Project, designed to catalyse the implementation of a 10-year Strategic Action Programme (SAP), focused on the sustainable management of shared living marine resources harnessed from the large marine ecosystems in both the Caribbean and the North Brazil Shelf. The SAP was endorsed by the ministers of CARICOM responsible for fisheries and/or environment in 2014.

The Caribbean Sea is described as a semi-enclosed sea adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, south to the Gulf of Mexico. It is one of the largest salt water seas with a diverse marine life that is fundamental to the livelihoods of coastal communities, project documents detail.

It is within this expansive marine space – spanning more than a million square miles – that the flyingfish, a species of fish which has a life-span of less than one year, but which spawns as many as 7,000 eggs several times between November and July, is known to thrive in a zone spanning from Dominica to Trinidad and Tobago.

Due to its vast socio-economic value, the CLME+ buttresses two of the re pillars: tourism and fisheries. However, these ecosystems are today being adversely impacted by pollution, habitat degradation and unsustainable fisheries and fishing practices. The 10-year SAP created under a forerunner CLME Project is aimed at tackling those threats, while also combating the threats which climate change poses to sustainable fisheries.

ORANJESTAD, Aruba - The Dutch Caribbean Coastguard (KWCARIB) detected on Tuesday during the late evening a suspect vessel during a patrol.

Their efforts to control the vessel led to a high speed chase towards the harbor of Barcadera.

A Super-RHIB from the Coast Guard Station on Aruba was supported by the Rescue and Coordination Centre (RCC) in Barcelona, ​​right on down to the point when the vessel was intercepted.

The high speed chase ended on a beach near the port of Barcadera. The crew tried to flee but were quickly stopped by the quick response of the Coast Guard personnel.

At this point the close cooperation between the Coast Guard and the Police Corps of Aruba (KPA) was launched and came to bear on the suspects. Upon further investigation, a large quantity of narcotics was found on the boat.

The two occupants, both who are Venezuelan nationals, were arrested and transferred together with the drugs to the police. The case is being further investigated.


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Federal authorities in Puerto Rico have detained eight Cuban migrants and a small Pekingese dog found on an uninhabited island near the U.S. territory.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Thursday that the group landed on Mona Island just west of Puerto Rico. Officials say that a child was part of the group and that the federal agency is temporarily caring for the dog.

Cubans are increasingly leaving their island amid fears they might lose a special status that gives Cubans automatic residency in the United States if they reach U.S. soil.

Federal agents have detained more than 150 Cuban migrants in the region so far this fiscal year. (AP)

MARIGOT, St. Martin - On Sunday, April 10, 2016 in the late morning, the Marine Department of the gendarmerie of Saint Martin uncovered on the Eastern coast the illegal underwater fishing of Queen Conchs.

Surprised by the intervention, the boater tried dump overboard much of the conchs caught illegally: several dozen kilos of conch.
After questioning the boater must now answer to justice for his crime.

Reminder of the regulations: the conch is a mollusk protected by the Washington Agreement and its fishing is regulated.

It is prohibited for recreational fishermen at any time and any place. However, it is permitted for professional fishermen, out of the nature reserve, from 01 September to 31 March each year for the northern islands on the condition that they respect the size limitations.

BRISBANE, Australia – A study by the University of Queensland (UQ) has found that new science-based fishery regulations are needed if coral reefs are to have a future in the face of climate change.

The study shows that Caribbean coral reefs are experiencing mounting pressure from global warming, local pollution and over-fishing of herbivorous fish. An international team, led by University of Queensland researchers, has found that tighter fishery regulations are needed to preserve corals of the Caribbean.

Researcher Dr Yves-Marie Bozec, from UQ’s School of Biological Sciences and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, said herbivorous parrotfish were needed because they eat seaweed, which can smother coral and prevent corals from recovering.

“While several countries in the Caribbean have taken the bold step of banning the fishing of parrotfish (including Belize, Bonaire, Turks and Caicos Islands), parrotfish fisheries remain in much of the region,” Dr Bozec said.

The research team analysed the effects of fishing on parrotfish and combined this with an analysis of the role of parrotfish on coral reefs.

“We conclude that unregulated fisheries will seriously reduce the resilience of coral reefs,” Dr Bozec said.

“However, implementation of size limits and catch limits to less than 10 percent of the fishable stock provide a far better outlook for reefs, while also allowing the fishery to persist.”

Study co-author Professor Peter Mumby from UQ’s School of Biological Sciences said a number of countries wanted to modify their fisheries to reduce impacts on reefs. “What we’ve done is identify fisheries’ policies that might help achieve this,” Professor Mumby said.

The new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today, argues that science should be used to revise current fisheries practices for herbivorous fish in the Caribbean.

The authors have provided tools to help fisheries managers make such changes.

“Ultimately, the more we do to maintain healthy coral reefs, the more likely it is that fishers’ livelihoods will be sustained into the future,” Professor Mumby said.

“We already know that failure to maintain coral habitats will lead to at least a threefold reduction in future fish catches.”

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