Zoning Plan threatens remaining natural values of Simpson Bay Lagoon

Sint Maarten Pride Foundation is calling on the General Public and in particular the residents of the Simpson Bay area to pay keen attention and if deemed necessary file objections to the Ministry of Environment’s (VROMI) Draft Simpson Bay Development plan which is currently on public review up to and including June 3rd, 2014. Sint Maarten Pride will be submitting its detailed formal objections this week.
After careful evaluation of the draft development plan, Pride Foundation has concluded that significant and unacceptable adaptations have been made to the plans since the second public meeting for the Simpson Bay Area of September 2012 and the Public Hearing of February 2014.
During the Simpson Bay Zoning plan meetings held in March and September of 2012 as well as the Public Hearing held in Simpson Bay in February 2014 the majority of the attendees indicated their desire to have the remaining natural values of the Simpson Bay Lagoon maintained and rehabilitated. Despite these calls for preservation, some fifty percent of the areas which, according to the VROMI plans up until the public hearing of this past February, were slated to be zoned for their natural value are now to be reserved for other purposes. The area south of the causeway at the eastern shore of the Lagoon bordering to Port de Plaisance for instance, is now reserved for the construction of “significant” marinas according to the draft plan while just a few months ago the area was reserved for conservation purposes.
It must be noted that this is the same area where the Harbour Group of Companies and Nature Foundation replanted mangroves after the destruction of mangrove stands to allow for the construction of the Causeway.
The Government and Harbor Group of Companies commissioned report “Inventory of marine natural values in the Eastern Part of the Simpson Bay Lagoon” as prepared by Ecovision recommends protection of the exact areas Minister Lake of VROMI is apparently intent on sacrificing for further marina development in the Lagoon.
The Draft Simpson Bay Development Plan seems to attempt to isolate or quarantine Nature in Mullet Pond and on Little Key while facilitating the destruction of the few remaining mangrove stands and sea grass beds in the rest of the Simpson Bay Lagoon.
Although Pride Foundation welcomes the recent proposals and efforts made to protect Mullet Pond, the Foundation wishes to caution Minister Lake that he cannot justify or attempt to compensate for further destruction of the Simpson Bay Lagoon ecosystems by simply protecting Mullet Pond. Over eighty percent of the mangroves-stands lining the shores of the Simpson Bay Lagoon up until the 1970’s have since been removed, it is therefore high time to protect the few remaining mangrove stands and sea grass beds present in the Lagoon.