Another Shark Illegally Caught on St. Maarten

The Nature Foundation responded to a report of a dead shark which was left in a vegetable bag in Simpson Bay. Staff of the Nature Foundation responded to the alert and upon further investigation was able to issue a report to the authorities as to the level of penalty for the responsible party. The Foundation will follow up on this and all incidents of shark poaching on St. Maarten. In this case the shark was a four foot Caribbean Reef shark, the most important species found in local waters.


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 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 lose 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 lose 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.

The Nature Foundation will also be launching a wide scale shark research project which goes hand in hand with an education campaign educating the public on the importance of sharks. To launch the campaign the Foundation urges everyone to look at the YouTube video YouTube/ Fin- Help End the Horror or visit the Nature Foundation Facebook page to see the disastrous results of shark fishing and finning.