Reader’s Letter: Pride and EPIC renew calls for the Protection of Mullet Bay Beach and Mullet PondPOSTED: 06/15/11 1:30 PM
An Open Letter to the President of Parliament
Dear Drs. Arrindell,
St. Maarten Pride Foundation and Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) welcome the news that the Ruins of the Mullet Bay Resort will finally be demolished after having been an eyesore for almost 16 years. The Foundations however urge Government to ensure that the debris is disposed of or reused in a responsible manner.
While the previously mentioned plans for the demolishment of the Mullet Bay Resort Ruins are indeed refreshing, Pride and EPIC are very much concerned by indications that there are plans for building a new resort in Mullet Bay. The Mullet Bay area is one of two remaining open and green (although not entirely natural) coastal zones on St. Maarten. Mullet Bay Beach is the last open and easily accessible beach on St. Maarten and is extremely popular with residents and visitors. St. Maarten Pride Foundation volunteers counted over 120 cars parked at Mullet Bay during a survey carried out in the 2010-2011 high season. Public access and parking at Mullet Bay must therefore be guaranteed. The Foundations believe it is important that Mullet Bay’s green and open character is maintained and therefore appeal to Parliament and the Council of Ministers to zone Mullet Bay and to set stringent criteria to manage any potential development of the area.
St. Maarten Pride Foundation and EPIC are hereby also requesting Parliament and the Council of Ministers to establish Mullet Pond and its immediate coastline consisting of a Buffer-zone of 45 meters measured from the Pond’s high water mark as a protected area as provided for/ described in the Island Nature (Conservation) Ordinance.
Research carried out by St. Maarten’s environmental organizations and visiting experts has shown that Mullet Pond harbors a relatively intact marine ecosystem, particularly when compared to the rest of the Simpson Bay Lagoon which has suffered considerable degradation over the past four decades. The mangrove trees of Mullet Pond represent an estimated 65% of all mangroves remaining in the Simpson Bay Lagoon. Until the 1950s Dutch St. Maarten boasted at least 19 ponds (all documented in maps available at the Cadastre’s office); by 1995 this had been reduced to 10 ponds and today, 16 years later, less than 5 remain intact.
Mullet Pond has been recommended for protection in numerous Government commissioned reports including The Ponds of Sint-Maarten, (Ecovision, 1996), the Carrying Capacity Study, the Tourism Master plan and most recently the “Inventory of marine natural values in the Eastern Part of the Simpson Bay Lagoon” as prepared by Ecovision and included in Appendix G of Link 9 through Simpson Bay Lagoon, Environmental Impact Study, which concluded that the pond is of ecological and environmental importance.
“It is highly recommended that such areas (Mullet Pond) be given “full protection” meaning that their survival is guaranteed through legal protection in combination with active management and/or restoration”. Paragraph 5.2, Inventory of marine natural values in the Eastern Part of the Simpson Bay Lagoon, Ecovision, 2010.
The Foundations remind Parliament and the Council of Ministers that Government is responsible for the Protection of St. Maarten’s Flora and Fauna and is tasked with the establishment of protected areas as indicated in the Island Nature (Conservation) Ordinance of 2003.
Public demand for such protected areas is clear. The Mullet Pond Coalition was established in 2007. Members of the Mullet Pond Coalition include Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC), Nature Foundation St. Maarten, OceanCare, and St. Maarten Pride Foundation. The coalition formed in response to development plans and submitted hundreds of signatures to government in support of the Mullet Pond Conservation Zone.
This online petition allowed signers to add comments on why Mullet Pond is important to them. Many expressed their concern at the rampant development taking place on St. Maarten, resulting in what they termed a “concrete jungle.” A tourist from the U.S. wrote “We came to St. Maarten years ago because of the over building in the Virgin Islands and Cancun… Please don’t allow that to happen to your island.” A resident of St. Maarten wrote “enough is enough, soon nothing will be left for us.”
Trusting that Parliament and the Council of Ministers will take note of and grant the Foundations’ requests to ensure the protection of St. Maarten’s natural heritage,
Rueben J. Thompson Jadira Veen