Illegal fish traps in marine park

POSTED: 01/30/13 1:56 PM

GREAT BAY – The St. Maarten Nature Foundation recently removed fish traps that were placed illegally inside of the Man of War Shoal Marine Park. The fish traps or fish pots were well within the Marine Park, close to the Fishbowl Dive Site. Nature Foundation staff noticed the fish traps during a routine patrol and removed them from the ocean.

The traps contained endangered fish which were still alive and were successfully set free. “As the legally mandated management authority for the Man of War Shoal Marine Park we removed the fish traps from the marine park. It is listed within the park rules that no fishing is allowed, including trap fishing. We have a close working relationship with fishermen when it comes to the Man of War Shoal Marine Park and would like this to continue. However if we notice illegal activities this will be addressed,” the Nature Foundation said in a press release.

The boundaries of the Marine Park are between 18N / 63-01.03 W and 17-57.0 N / 63-04.05 W, in an area better known as “the Proselyte Reef Complex “.  This area includes the island’s most ecologically and economical important marine habitat, including extensive coral reef areas and sea grass beds. The Man of War Shoal Marine Park, officially established on the 30th of December 2010, is a home and migratory stop over or breeding site for 3 IUCN Red List Species, 10 CITES Appendix I species and 89 Appendix II species. It is an area with a relatively healthy population of marine mammals including migratory whales and dolphins, numerous species of shark, sea turtles and numerous fish species. Studies conducted by the St. Maarten Nature Foundation have shown that biodiversity in this area, particularly coral reef density, is high and the economic goods and services which the ecosystem provides are in excess of fifty million dollars annually.” It has been shown that no-fishing areas have resulted in an increase in fish stock. Therefore it is also in the interest of fishermen to adhere to the no catch rules of the Marine Park,” continued the Foundation.

The owner of the fish trap can reclaim his property at the Nature Foundation offices in Cole Bay. The Foundation urges all fishermen to not fish in the Marine Park in order to avoid their materials being removed. If the trap is not collected it will be donated to a group of local fishermen the Nature Foundation has been working with to control the lionfish invasion.


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