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St. Maarten Pride Foundation's Objection to the filling-in of the Great Salt Pond, St. Maarten
St. Maarten Pride Foundation's Objection to the filling-in of the Great Salt Pond, St. Maarten
St. Maarten Pride Foundation's Objection to the filling-in of the Great Salt Pond, St. Maarten
St. Maarten Pride Foundation's Objection to the filling-in of the Great Salt Pond, St. Maarten
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St. Maarten Pride Foundation's Objection to the filling-in of the Great Salt Pond, St. Maarten

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St. Maarten Pride Foundation's Objection to the filling-in of the Great Salt Pond, St. Maarten …

St. Maarten Pride Foundation's Objection to the filling-in of the Great Salt Pond, St. Maarten

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  • 1. October 2nd, 2012Minister William MarlinClem LaBega SquarePhilipsburg,Sint MaartenObjection to the filling-in of the Great Salt Pond including but not limited to the filling-inof the Pond for the Drag Strip and the Cricket stadium.Honorable Minister Marlin,St. Maarten Pride Foundation has taken notice of the recent (and on-going) filling-in of the GreatSalt Pond. The Foundation has no objections to the construction of a Drag Strip or a Cricketstadium on Sint Maarten. Pride does however strongly object to any and all filling-in of the GreatSalt Pond, including the filling-in which has taken place for the construction of the proposedDrag Strip and the filling-in for the proposed Cricket stadium.The Foundation would like to remind the Minister of the following: That the Preamble of the Constitution of Sint Maarten states: “WE, THE PEOPLE OF SINT MAARTEN”, (are)“…DETERMINED to care for the perpetual maintenance of nature and the environment”; That Article 22 of the Constitution of Sint Maarten states that: “It shall be the constant concern of the government to keep the country habitable and to protect and improve the natural environment and the welfare of animals”; That Netherlands Antilles laws on the protection of nature and environment have been taken over by Sint Maarten including the Landsverordening grondslagen natuurbeheer en – bescherming (P.B. 1998, 49)”; The “Eilandsverordening natuurbeheer en- bescherming Sint Maarten (A.B. 2003,25)”. That emission norms or standards have been drafted and implemented for Sint Maarten. “Lucht & Geluid, Water, Afvalwater, Afval, Afval, Eindrapport Milieunormen, 2007”. 1
  • 2. That Sint Maarten is party to several international and regional environmental agreements, treaties and conventions. The following conventions, to which Sint Maarten is (indirectly) bound, are of significance to the protection of the Great Salt Pond; 1. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). (1992) 2. The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat. /The Ramsar Convention/ Convention on Wetlands. (1971) 3. The Convention on Migratory Species, (CMS or Bonn Convention). (1979) 4. The Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol of the Cartagena Convention, (1990)The Foundation is objecting to the filling-in of the Great Salt Pond based on the followingreasons;The Great Salt Pond played a prominent role in both Sint Maarten’s and the Kingdom of theNetherlands’ history due to its immense size and its central location, particularly in the widescale salt mining industry which started with the Dutch around 1631. Salt was collected from theGreat Salt Pond and subsequently exported all over the world or locally used to conserve food.The last commercially significant salt reaping occurred in the 1940’s. Many Sint Maarteners aredescendants of people who worked in the Great Salt Pond during and after slavery, a fact whichmakes the Pond an important aspect of the island’s and the Kingdom’s heritage. The Great Salt Pond was identified and designated as a monument by the Executive Council of the Island Territory of Sint Maarten (BC Decision 040308, Arch nr. 1172-08) the monument was officially registered in 2009; in doing so, government acknowledged the cultural and historical significance of the area and committed to protecting it; The construction of the Cricket stadium, as it is currently proposed, will destroy a large portion of the Great Salt Pond National monument ; The Foundation is of the opinion that an undesirable precedent would be set if Government destroys an area which has been identified and designated as a national monument based on its cultural/ historical significance.The entire Great Salt Pond serves as a natural cache for much of the run-off water fromsurrounding hills. Government commissioned reports have advised government to expand theisland’s rain water storage capacity. Even partially filling in the Great Salt Pond willsignificantly reduce water storage capacity and is likely to have drastic consequences for thesurrounding areas as excess run-off water will lead to additional flooding of the alreadyoverburdened districts adjacent to the pond.Sint Maarten’s ponds (including parts of) the Great Salt Pond have been recommended forprotection in reports such as The Ponds of Sint-Maarten, (Ecovision, 1996) and many otherstudies which concluded that the ponds are of ecological and environmental importance. 2
  • 3. The entire Great Salt Pond is of crucial importance for the survival of many species of birds, fish and other wetland life; It is an important feeding, breeding and nesting area for numerous species of migratory and resident birds. BirdLife International (de Vogelbescherming) has recognized the Great Salt Pond as one of the Caribbean’s “Important Bird Areas (IBA)”. IBAs are places of the highest global priority for bird and biodiversity conservation. “Great Salt Pond IBA is in south-central St. Maarten, on the outskirts of the capital Philipsburg....This IBA is significant for its population of Laughing Gull (Larus atricilla). Up to 5.800 gulls congregate at the IBA prior to the breeding season. About 50 pairs of Black- necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) breed .... within the IBA.” (St. Maarten, Important Bird Areas In the Caribbean, Key sites for conservation, BirdLife International, 2008) The area is also of importance for the: o White-cheeked Pintail (Anas bahamensis) a regionally threatened species experiencing declining populations due to habitat restriction, o Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) which is found on only four other Lesser Antillean islands due to habitat restriction, o Caribbean Coot (Fulica caribaea) a regionally threatened species experiencing declining populations due to habitat restriction, o Sint Maarten’s national bird, the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), with up to 60 pairs known to breed in the Greater Great Bay Area.In addition to the aforementioned it should also be noted that the proposed location of the DragStrip is in close proximity to a number of residential areas. Emissions and Noise pollution willlikely exceed the norms for Sint Maarten as compiled in the government report: “Lucht &Geluid, Water, Afvalwater, Afval, Eindrapport Milieunormen 2007”.The constitution of Sint Maarten states the following: “It shall be the constant concern of thegovernment to keep the country habitable and to protect and improve the natural environmentand the welfare of animals”.It is for this reason inexcusable and incomprehensible that Government would commission thefilling-in of the Great Salt Pond in the first place, moreover, that government would do sowithout following the proper stakeholder consultation, research and permitting procedures. 3
  • 4. Activities such as the illegal dumping of sand into the Great Salt Pond should not be condoned orlegalized by Government after the fact. The Foundation therefore calls on Government to takeappropriate measures towards the removal of the illegally dumped sand and the restoration of theeffected areas. Additional measures such as the drafting and implementation of a Zoning Plan forthe Great Salt Pond should be taken immediately to prevent any more filling-in of the Pond.Sint Maarten Pride Foundation reserves its right to review, revise and resubmit these objectionsin the event that permit requests are submitted for the filling-in of the Great Salt Pond.Sincerely,Sint Maarten Pride Foundation 4

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