Nature Foundation response to massive fish die off

POSTED: 10/24/13 5:45 PM

St. Maarten – The Nature Foundation was called on Monday by staff of Telem regarding a possible fish die off taking place in the Great Salt Pond. On arrival at the Telem main building it was noticed that the trench leading out from Turning Point into the Salt Pond was filled with Tilapia. Some were alive and some were dead. The Nature Foundation contacted the Ministry of Vromi in order to ask for assistance to have the dead fish removed and the live fish push back into the Salt Pond. The Vromi Ministry subsequently sent SXM Clean Sweep to assist with cleaning of the canal.

Nature Foundation staff then proceeded to the A. Th. Illidge Road roundabout where there was a significant number of Tilapia fish dead in the canal leading up to the fresh water pond. Once again Nature Foundation staff contacted the Ministry of Vromi requesting help to have the dead fish removed and the living Tilapia fish moved over into the fresh water pond. Vromi Minster Maurice Lake sent Koop N.V and Windward Roads to assist removing the dead fish. At 2.30 p.m. the minister and Member of Parliament Theo Heyliger visited the site. The Nature Foundation requested to have the fresh water pond floodgate opened in order to have fresh water introduced into the salt-water pond to help keep the remaining fish alive. The floodgates were subsequently open to allow fresh water over into the salt-water pond for a period of time.

The Nature Foundation recommends concluding research in order to find a balanced way to control the reproduction of the Tilapia, an invasive species, in the salt pond and the management of Great Salt Pond Water Levels.

Minister Lake and Theo Heyliger have asked the Nature Foundation to come up with solutions and ideas to prevent this from happening again or to minimize the events. The Nature Foundation is currently investigating wide scale management options to stop the occurrence of fish die-offs again.

Nature Foundation staff was present until late on Tuesday evening and the cleaning of various areas of the Pond will continue indefinitely. According to the Nature Foundation this has been the largest fish die off that St. Maarten have had to date.

Yesterday morning the Nature Foundation with the assistance of all participants continued to move fish from the areas of A. Th. Illidge Road, vicinity of Telem and along the ring road.



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