Staff of the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation intercepted the vessel Oyster, with registration number SX1438, that was found poaching illegally in the Man of War Shoal National Marine Park at the location 17 ̊-59.511 N and 63 ̊-03.327 W close to the ‘Mike’s Maze’ dive site. The Spanish-speaking Fishermen were approached but did not comply with the instructions of Nature Foundation staff. The vessel left the area but was followed by the Marine Park patrol vessel and the fishermen were met by police officers and the coastguard.
“As the legally mandated Management Authority for the Man of War Shoal Marine Park we regularly patrol the area and have authority to respond to illegal activities in the Marine Park. It is listed within the rules of the Marine Park that no fishing is allowed. We have a close working relationship with fishermen when it comes to the Man of War Shoal Marine Park and would like this to continue. However if we notice illegal activities within the Marine Park those will be addressed,” read a Nature Foundation statement.
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, 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 seagrass beds. The Man of War Shoal Marine Park, officially established on the 30th of December 2010, 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.” It has been shown that no-fishing areas have resulted in an increase in fish stock. Therefore it is also in the interest of fishermen to adhere to the no catch rules of the Marine Park,” continued the Foundation.
The case is being dealt with by law enforcement authorities. The confiscated fish was donated to the White and Yellow Cross Foundation Sister Basilia home and Home for the Elderly. The Nature Foundation would like to thank Dive Adventures for notifying the Nature Foundation.