Sharks Poached Illegally On The Boardwalk

Animal left dead on the Boardwalk

The Nature Foundation responded to a report of a dead shark on the Boardwalk on Monday, the 28th of May 2012.


online casino

Upon arrival at the scene Nature Foundation staff recorded a dead Caribbean reed shark with its head and fins removed lying on the Boardwalk in the vicinity of Diamond Casino. Nature Foundation staff talked to the fisherman responsible for catching the animal and informed him on his illegal actions. The presence of the dead animal caused quite a stir on the Boardwalk and Nature Foundation staff contacted the police to inform them of the situation. Upon the arrival of the police information on the incident was given and subsequent follow up was made with the Prosecutor’s Office and the Police Department as to the level of penalty for the responsible party.

The practice of intentionally fishing for sharks has been forbidden since October 12th 2011, when the Ministry TEATT temporarily banned the practice of intentionally poaching sharks in the territorial waters of St. Maarten. The act of trying to catch by  tracking, stalking, baiting, chasing, trapping, hooking, netting, shooting or otherwise hunting –  sharks, rays and skates is prohibited and therefore the animals may not be wounded, caught, landed, or killed. Violators may be punished with jail and a considerable fine may be issued. If Sharks are accidentally caught all steps should be taken to release the animal with as little harm as possible.

Sharks have a very high value to the ecology of the island and the island coral reef ecosystem and they also are a major attraction to visiting dive tourists. The majority of divers who visit the island hope to see a shark while diving. The Nature Foundation and local dive operators have also been using sharks as a control method for the present lionfish invasion. Less and less sharks are being seen and populations have been going from approximately twenty individuals to now only two or three being seen in the locations where they are known to frequent.

Sharks are an apex predator and are essential to the health of local coral reefs. "If we do not have sharks we will loose our coral reef ecosystem. Sharks keep the reefs clean of unhealthy fish which keeps the ecosystem in balance. Also the majority of visiting divers come to see local coral reefs as well as sharks. A system collapse will occur if we loose these species and this very important tourism product will be lost, that is why this step taken by government is a true milestone in Marine Conservation, allowing the shark population to return to numbers needed to sustain a healthy population" commented Nature Foundation Marine Park Manager Tadzio Bervoets.

"We are not against fishing; in fact the whole reason why we established certain rules on some fishing activities is that we hope to replenish our fishing stock to levels they once were. We have lost most of our big fish on all our fishing grounds in the last three decades and we want to once again have St. Maarten people be able to fish at a sustainable level, but the way things are currently nature cannot support wide scale fishery," concluded Bervoets.