Island Marine

Island Marine (924)

SIMPSON BAY, St. Maarten - The Cycle 2 year 4 students of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School visited the Coast Guard facilities in Simpson Bay on Wednesday morning.

"The exam students were able to see first hand the facilities of the Coast Guard inclusive of a full presentation of the operations and a tour of the cutter Poema," said Stuart Johnson School Manager of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School.
"The commitment and sacrifice of our Coast Guard personnel is nothing short of commendable especially since they provide a vital service to our country and the surrounding waters. Our students today got a better understanding of this career and the hard work it entails," Johnson added."
One of the main highlight's of the working visit was a ride on a "SuperRhibs" vessel through the Simpson Bay lagoon as the students experienced various maneuvers possible with the water vessel.
The students since their Foundation Based Education (FBE) Exit Exam will continue to be exposed to opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom as they transition into secondary education.
Johnson thanked the Coast Guard personnel for their true display of professionalism and welcoming spirit towards our school during this morning's working visit. 
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School is a public education school located in the district of Dutch Quarter.

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Just over a month ago, on Monday afternoon, May 9 at the Cruise Terminal Building, Port St. Maarten, President of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Michele Paige, and Cruise Line Executives briefed business officials who were invited by Port St. Maarten under the umbrella of the yet to be established St. Maarten Economic Cruise Association (SECA). 

SECA notarial deed was signed on Monday, June 13 at Faride Eloisa Elixie Tjon Civil Law Notary, thereby creating a private sector organization driven by private initiative to move cruise tourism forward and address the challenges being confronted by the destination.

SECA’s objectives are to promote, establish, communicate, and influence a clear vision with actions in support of the enhancement of the cruise experience for Sint Maarten.

SECA also recognizes and endorses the St. Maarten Tourism Authority (STA) and is ready to work with this entity once it’s fully active. 

A board has been appointed for one-year to get the association up and running.  The board members are: President Mark Mingo, Treasurer/Vice President Moshe Hakimi, Transportation representative Abdul Meyers, and Retail representative Peter Mirpuri.  A fifth member will be appointed at a later stage.

During the meeting held in a conference room onboard of the Oasis of the Seas on Tuesday, discussions focused on the establishment of three work groups; funding; and membership. 

One of the work groups identified will focus on association membership and bylaws; the second work group will deal with business intelligence (surveys, data, trends and developments etc.); and the third work group will be focusing on destination experience/marketing-promotion and government relations.

Port St. Maarten Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo said that it was very important to have an entity such as SECA that collectively represents the interests of the economy and would work along with Port St. Maarten and other stakeholders in re-inventing cruise St. Maarten, and in addressing the challenges currently being confronted by the country’s cruise sector.

“As I have stated in the past, Port St. Maarten cannot do it alone!  There are many stakeholders, and everybody has a role to play.  We have taken the lead and will continue to do what is necessary.  We are now at the cross-roads and we need to deal with the challenges post haste by getting our destination back on track.    

“It was Port St. Maarten back in 2014 when we hosted the 21st Annual Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Conference and Trade Show under the theme, ‘Reinventing Cruise St. Maarten,’ where we needed to get our act together and address the challenges.  The slogan of SECA is ‘The Vessel to the Ultimate Sint Maarten Experience,’ We are now almost two-years down the coast, and things are different now as we are at a cross-road. SECA has been an entity that I have been working on for more than two-years, and its formal establishment comes at no better time as the industry faces challenges.  We need to work on stabilizing the cruise business as it is an integral part of our economy.

“FCCA President Michele Paige last month said now is the perfect moment to re-invent and fix the challenges and I fully concur with her. The platform for growth is there, but we have to identify the opportunities and invest in them in order to grow once again as St. Maarten remains a fantastic destination as was said by the Cruise Line Executives during last month’s meeting with parliament and with representatives of the business community,” Mingo said on Tuesday.

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Management team members of Port St. Maarten and Walter Plantz Square (WPS) last week Thursday met with the Nature Foundation, and Manager of the Ocean’s Building, and a representative from the Cabinet Ministry Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications, to discuss the temporary parking at WPS.  The meeting was an informative one as each side was able to present their views and opinions.  It ended on an amicable note.

On Saturday morning, WPS Supervisor Addison Richardson, looked on as a tractor shifted the white boulders at the beach to further accommodate turtle nesting.  The boulders were placed to prevent cars from parking on the water side of the beach.  At the same time they also serve as a protective barrier in order to prevent disturbance of potential turtle nesting sites in the vicinity of WPS.

Addison informed the Manager of Ocean’s Building, that the current parking at WPS on the beach side is temporary, as Port St. Maarten is in negotiation to co-develop a piece of property for a parking garage.

The replenishment of Great Bay Beach was done after several hurricanes eroded the beach.  The beach replenishment served as a protection for homes and businesses located along the beach area.  This later led to the construction of the beach promenade which further adds to hurricane protection of the aforementioned and at the same time has allowed property values to increase.

It is the intention for the beach promenade to be further extended down to the vicinity of Sonesta Great Bay Beach Hotel & Casino.  The current temporary parking area for patrons of WPS, sits on the area that will be used to extend the beach promenade when this starts.

Port St. Maarten is very much aware of the importance of sea turtles to the environment.  WPS, a community development project of the Port, sits on Great Bay Beach at Down Street, which is one of the most popular turtle nesting places on the island.

The boulders placed at the beach are to prevent vehicles from driving on the beach in the vicinity of WPS.  This creates a safe environment for the turtles to nest on the side closest to the water.

Each year between April and November, female sea turtles return to lay their eggs on the major nesting beaches of Simpson Bay, Guana Bay, and Gibbs Bay and other beaches on the island. There are three sea turtles which nest on St. Maarten beaches, including the Green Sea Turtle and the largest sea turtle species, the Leatherback.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten The Nature Foundation will organize St Maarten Shark Week in the week of 18th until 25th of June 2016. Shark week is part of the DCNA Save our Shark Project funded by the Dutch National Postcode Lottery.

During this event different activities will be organized to show the importance of sharks for our reefs, island and tourism. The Nature Foundation will show how they perform Shark research around our island, they will teach participants to recognize different shark species and why sharks are not frightening or dangerous.

‘Shark Week will start with an Open Day at the Nature Foundation Office at the Fisherman’s Wharf in Cole Bay on Saturday the 18th of June at 12-4pm. We will organize a movie night to show the amazing documentary ‘Sharkwater’ (19th of June 8pm) and people can enjoy listening to our shark expert presentation (22nd of June 8pm) at Buccaneers’, says Nature Foundations project Officer Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern’.

She continues with ‘We will end Shark Week with a Shark Party at Buccaneers (25th of June 7.30pm) with Electric Shark Cocktails, local Shark videos and Shark Games. Celebrity, Save our Shark Ambassador and Comedian Jorgen Raymann from the Netherlands will visit our Shark Party and therewith will show his support for Caribbean Sharks’.

During Shark Week there will be plenty of kids activities. ‘We will organize a Shark Stanley color contest and Quiz for kids with amazing prizes all related to the sea with a prize giving being held during the Shark Party at 7.30pm.

There will be also shark quizzes and games to play for kids, Shark Stanley will be there with books and  temporary tattoos, kids can get shark face paintings and be a shark in a shark costume’.

Shark experts ‘Jillian and Duncan Brake’ from the the Education Organization ‘Sharks4kids’ will participate in the activities of the Nature Foundation for Shark Week. Together with the Nature Foundation they will also visit St Maarten schools to talk with students about sharks and marine ecosystems during the week.

If you are a certified scuba diver, you can join Duncan Brake on a special shark education dive during shark week. For information about the program go to the St Maarten Nature Foundation Facebook page.

Sharkweek SXM Logo

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Sint Maarten Yacht Club is getting race-ready with a clinic and seminar led by champion team racer Joel Hanneman from Newport, RI. Joel founded the Rhode Island Team Racing Association and has raced on winning team racing teams representing Seawanhaka Yacht Club and other clubs.

Hanneman is an experienced sailor, having competed from a very young age. His junior career culminated at the ISAF Youth World Championships in South Africa.

After graduating from Tabor Academy in Massachusetts, Hanneman attended Tufts University, where he was a varsity sailor and captained the team his senior year. He received his Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 2004.

Continuing to sail at the national and international level after college, Hanneman has been a competitive force with his team, the Woonsocket Rockets. In 2007, he earned first place at the U.S. Team Racing Association Mid-Summers and placed third at the U.S. Team Racing Championships.

In 2006, the Rockets earned a fourth place finish at the Hinman Trophy.

The session will cover dinghy team racing, with a focus on team racing that is common with universities sailing. 

Hanneman will share his tips and tricks for team racing on Wednesday, June 15th at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club.

Dinghy Team Racing

Schedule of the day: 

3pm to 5:30pm racing clinic (Youth Sailing School only)

6pm to 7pm seminar at the SMYC (open to all)


PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - As part of the Nature Foundation/ Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance regional Save our Sharks Projects the St Maarten Nature Foundation has had discussions with restaurants and stores about the importance of sharks and has asked them to discontinue selling shark products.

Globally, human fishing pressure has resulted in 100 million sharks being killed annually, primarily for products such as shark fin soup, shark steaks and shark pills.

Through discussing the issue and lobbying the industry the Foundation is happy to announce that the following stores and restaurants understand the importance of sharks and will stop selling their shark products on St Maarten: Shang Bola Restaurant, Golden China Restaurant, Carrefour Market, Grand Marche, Fountain of Health and Health Upkeep.

There were still a few restaurants and stores that are still in negotiations to take shark products off of their shelves, but it is expected that this will happen in the near future.

“Sharks are not frightening or dangerous but keep the reefs clean of unhealthy fish, keeping the ecosystem in balance. If we do not have sharks we will lose our coral reef ecosystem and everything which depends on that such as fisheries, dive tourism, beach tourism and the very things which make us a unique island in the Caribbean.

We are very glad with the understanding of the stores and restaurants to decide to discontinue shark products, let’s hope all restaurants and stores will follow their example,” commented Melanie Meijer Zu-Schlochtern, Projects Officer for the Nature Foundation.

Various restaurants have also signed a pledge to not sell shark on their menu considering how endangered the animals are; “We are very grateful to these establishments for seeing the importance in bringing these animals back from the brink of extinction.

100 million sharks are being killed every year and however we can contribute to this number being reduced is very important,” commented Tadzio Bervoets, Manager of the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation.

Previously the Foundation discovered various establishments selling Shark Products but with lobbying efforts and in discussing with the business owners they voluntarily decided to stop selling shark products.

Numerous restaurants have also signed an agreement with the Nature Foundation that they would not sell any shark or shark related products to their customers.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The St. Maarten Nature Foundation is collaborating with the University of Groningen (NL) and IMARES Wageningen UR (NL) on a Dutch Caribbean sea turtle project funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).

Green and hawksbill turtles are observed feeding in the waters of St. Maarten with both species also nesting on St. Maarten along with the leatherback turtle.

Green and hawksbill turtles are needed for healthy seagrass and coral reef ecosystems, which are highly valuable ecosystems from an economic, cultural and scientific point of view. However, the green turtle and hawksbill turtle are highly endangered species. MelUWCleanup

Many nesting populations have disappeared and others have been reduced to dangerously low numbers because of severe hunting and habitat destruction.

Jurjan van der Zee, a PhD candidate from the University of Groningen, is visiting and joining the Nature Foundation for two weeks to measure, tag and sample green and hawksbill turtles foraging in the waters around St. Maarten.

The samples will be used for isotope and DNA analysis. The isotope analysis will reveal the diet of St. Maarten green and hawksbill turtles, for example which species of seagrass are being eaten by green turtles and which sponges are being eaten by hawksbill turtles.

By studying their DNA, St. Maarten green and hawksbill turtles can be traced back to the area where they were born and show which Caribbean nesting populations, some which may be severely endangered, feed in St. Maarten.

The data coming from St. Maarten will be integrated with similar data from the other Dutch Caribbean islands and will be used to help the conservation of sea turtles.

“This project is a part of our work to conserve and protect these endangered species from extinction, and we hope that with the results we can conduct better management actions to ensure that these very important animals make a successful recovery,” commented Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Manager.

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PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten is very much aware of the importance of sea turtles to the environment and plans to do its part where it concerns sea turtle awareness in conjunction with the Nature Foundation.

The Walter Plantz Square (WPS), a community development project of the Port, sits on Great Bay Beach at Down Street, which is one of the most popular turtle nesting places on the island.

WPS as part of its social community responsibility is working with Nature Foundation and children from the down town area and Down Street along with the community to paint the boulders to create awareness about turtle nesting on the island. 

Each year between April and November, female sea turtles return to lay their eggs on the major nesting beaches of Simpson Bay, Guana Bay, and Gibbs Bay and other beaches on the island. There are three sea turtles which nest on St. Maarten beaches, including the Green Sea Turtle and the largest sea turtle species, the Leatherback.

According to the Nature Foundation, sea turtles have existed for well over 180 million years, even before the dinosaurs. St. Maarten is one of the few places in the region that has a nesting population of sea turtles.

The boulders placed at the beach are to prevent vehicles from driving on the beach in the vicinity of WPS.  This creates a safe environment for the turtles to nest on the side closest to the water.

Signage will also be erected along the entire boardwalk to alert pedestrians and beachgoers about turtle nesting season.    

Sea turtle population numbers have plummeted to dangerously low numbers throughout the past century due to human impacts, bringing many species close to extinction, causing them to be listed as critically endangered, according to the Nature Foundation of St. Maarten.

Port St. Maarten and WPS will do its part to create the necessary awareness in conjunction with Nature Foundation about the turtle nesting season which has started and runs for several months.

In order to reverse this trend, all sea turtle species are now protected by international laws and treaties as well as local laws. Based on ARTICLE 16 and 17 of the Nature Conservation Ordinance St. Maarten it is illegal to kill, wound, capture, pick-up, have animals that belong to a protected animal species, to directly or indirectly disturb their environment resulting in a physical threat or damage to the fauna or to commit other acts which result in disturbance of the animal.

It is also forbidden to upset an animal belonging to a protected species, to disturb, damage or destroy its nest, lair, or breeding place, as well as to take the nest of such an animal. Also, it is forbidden to pick-up or to destroy the eggs of animals belonging to a protected species, according to Nature Foundation.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – This article provides an overview of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing) in the Caribbean region to commemorate World Environment Day (WED) 2016, which is celebrated under the theme: “Go Wild for Life: Zero Tolerance for the Illegal Wildlife Trade.” It outlines the importance of the fisheries sector to the region, impacts and consequences of IUU fishing, with examples, and provides a brief on regional efforts to combat the illegal trade of fishery resources in the Caribbean.

To begin with, wildlife comes in various kinds belonging to different types of ecosystems. Fishery, which encompasses fin fish, crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic animals, is one type of wildlife resources that is harvested and traded illegally. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reports that IUU fishing is one of the major threats to the sustainability of the Caribbean’s fishery resources.

The FAO describes illegal (IUU) fishing, also commonly referred to as ‘poaching,’ as fishing conducted by national or foreign vessels in the water of a State without the state’s permission, or in contravention of the laws and regulations of that State, or to high seas fisheries regulated by regional organisations. More so, the FAO estimated that an average of 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish is caught through IUU fishing, which costs the industry between USD $10 to $23 billion dollars yearly.

Furthermore, the fisheries sector plays an important role in the support of social and economic development of the Caribbean, particularly, Small Island Developing States (SIDS). This sector supports livelihood and sustenance for the people of the region, contributing towards food security, poverty alleviation, employment, foreign exchange earnings, development, stability of rural and coastal communities and culture, recreation, and tourism. Yet, IUU fishing, predominately at the national level, remains as one of the major pressures which is undermining the sustainability of the Caribbean’s fisheries resources2.

The challenges of open access to fishery resources and poor fishery regulations are major contributing factors to the illegal exploitation of these resources in the Caribbean region. The open and unregulated access to fishery resources contributes to poachers believing that such a resource is limitless. Consequently, they take without considering the long-term negative effects that their use has on the sustainability of the resource, and subsequently, society at large. Poaching of fish stocks is also driven by the lack of firm regulations to guide the management of the fisheries sector, and enforcement of strict penalties against IUU fishing.

In 2013, the Bahamas indicated in a report on IUU fishing that as many as 65 fishing vessels, possibly operating from Dominican Republic ports were landing over 70,000 pounds of  Bahamian conch, grouper and other fin fish per trip. The Turks and Caicos in 2012, reported that its queen conch fishery is threatened by large-scale poaching operations from its neighbour Hispaniola. Not so long ago in 2010, Honduran vessels were caught poaching queen conch in Jamaican waters.

The illicit extraction of fishery resources has combined local, national and regional implications on states of the Caribbean. It reduces the quantity and quality of the available catch for local fishers fishing legitimately. This may exacerbate food insecurity, losses of livelihood and even revenues from exports for local communities, and consequently, the State at large. More so, IUU fishing prevents governments across the region from achieving nationally and regionally agreed-upon fisheries management goals and objectives, and thus undermines the effective management and conservation of fish stocks.

The Caribbean is increasingly making a political commitment to tackle IUU fishing in the region. The adoption of the Castries Declaration (2010) on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing is evidence of this. Furthermore, the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (2014) is also a binding treaty for the region to combat IUU fishing. The challenge, however, lies with the implementation and enforcement of these legal frameworks, and strong cooperation among Caribbean states to successfully mitigate IUU fishing. Otherwise, this downward spiral of resource exploitation will only increase further2.

In closing, IUU fishing being market-based, and driven by people’s demands for and purchasing of fishery products harvested illegally, could be alleviated by the market itself. Consumers, whether or not from the Caribbean, can in their efforts, increase their support of and demands for fishery products harvested in a sustainable and responsible manner. This reinforces WED 2016 theme as zero tolerance for the illegal wildlife trade via an informed market could cumulatively, increase pressure on Caribbean States to firmly enforce their commitments to combat IUU fishing.

VANCOUVER – The amount of fish caught in Turks and Caicos Islands waters from 1950-2012 is estimated to be 86 percent higher than previously thought, according to a new scientific study.

The study, published in the latest issue of Frontiers in Marine Science, says that conch, lobster, and fish catches have been underestimated historically because official figures have not always included seafood eaten by Turks and Caicos Islanders, and by tourists to the TCI.

“The Department of Environment and Marine Affairs (DEMA) has done a great job of monitoring fish sold to the country’s fish plants,” said Aylin Ulman, a researcher recently based at the world-renowned Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries in Vancouver, Canada. “However, it seems they have not always had enough staff to monitor seafood being sold or given to locals and tourists, whether that be at the dock, in shops, or in restaurants.”

Using recently developed mathematical models and newly collected data, Ulman’s research team have been able to project the most accurate estimates to-date of fish consumption by TCI residents and tourists. “The new numbers are worrying,” stated Edward Hind, another member of the research team. “It was already thought that catches of conch might be too high, and now we know they were even higher.” The research team concluded that conch and perhaps several other species are being over-consumed to a level where they will not be able to replenish themselves.

In addition, the study draws attention to the rising population of the TCI and the increasing numbers of visiting tourists. “The government wants population and tourism growth for the sake of the economy,” noted Hind. “That’s great, but they’re going to eat even more conch. It won’t be possible to catch more, or even as much as is being caught currently. Perhaps policy-makers can work with fishermen and fish plant owners to help them get more money for their conch catches within the TCI?”

While the results of the research may seem like bad news, the researchers are quick to emphasize that the new data may actually present an opportunity. Ulman added, “The staff at DEMA now have the knowledge to set catch limits that really will work. If the government supports the TCI’s fisheries scientists in collecting better catch data going forward, then the country can have healthy fisheries for decades to come.”

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