President of Parliament Hon. Gracita Arrindell met with the Manager of the St. Maarten Nature Foundation Tadzio Bervoets on Thursday morning to discuss the foundation’s role in environmental matters.
Arrindell was very impressed with the amount of work the foundation carries out with only a staff of three.
The mission of the St. Maarten Nature Foundation is to preserve and enhance the natural environment of St. Maarten through proper management, education, public awareness, law enforcement, scientific research and monitoring relating to all aspects of the terrestrial, wetland and marine surroundings.
"The handing over of the management of the recently created official protected marine area ‘Man of War Shoal Marine Park’ to the Nature Foundation is a major development in the protection and sustainable management of our marine resources.
"The foundation will be able to charge a user fee which will contribute to its long-term sustainability. We are on the right track and this is only the beginning where it concerns the protection of our environment," President of Parliament Hon. Gracita Arrindell said on Thursday.
The meeting with the Nature Foundation is part of the ‘information gathering consultation sessions,’ that Arrindell started after the parliamentary summer recess.
Bervoets mentioned a number of challenges that the foundation is concerned about such as water runoff (mud, sewage) which is causing damage to the coral reefs; lionfish in local waters; overfishing; foreign sports fishermen catching sharks; sewage in the Simpson Bay Lagoon, coastal development; and spear fishing.
Nature Foundation Manager Bervoets mentioned his concern of plastic bags which he would like to see phased out and biodegradable plastic sacks introduced.
President of Parliament Hon. Gracita Arrindell was very impressed with the work activities of the foundation and informed Bervoets that she will recommend to the parliament Permanent Committee for Public Housing, Spatial Development, Environment and Infrastructure to take a tour of the marine reserve area.
The St. Maarten Nature Foundation has been invited to make a presentation to the Central Committee of Parliament in September.