St. Maarten recently established its first national marine park – the Man of War Shoal Marine Park. The aquatic area, which opened in late December, is the first step St. Maarten has taken towards preserving the area known as the Proselyte Reef, the island’s most important underwater habitat.
“The development of the marine park has been long in the making and we are pleased toSXM Underwater 1 have begun the first and most crucial phase of the process. By creating the marine park, St. Maarten is taking steps to preserve the local environment as well as enhancing sustainable tourism,” said Honorable Franklin Meyers, Minister of Economic Affairs, Tourism, Transportation and Telecommunications.
The Proselyte Reef includes the island’s most important marine habitat consisting of coral reefs and sea grass beds as well as a large population of aquatic mammals, including whales, dolphins, sharks, sea turtles and fish. The reef also acts as a migratory stopover and breeding site for three IUCN Red List Species, 10 CITES Appendix I species and 89 Appendix II species.
The area was selected because of the ecological, economical and cultural value which provides more than $50 million per year in economic goods and services. In addition, this designated region will help boost tourism to the island as diving in marine parks is on the rise globally and is a tourist “must do” while on vacation.
The new Man of War Shoal marine park allows St. Maarten to have an official protected SXM Underwater 2area that is enforced in accordance with the Specially Protected Areas of Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol and the federal decree on Maritime Management. Named after the HMS Proselyte – a 32-gun frigate that struck Man of War Shoal on Sept. 4, 1801, artifacts such as large anchors, cannons, barrel hoops, cannon balls and pottery are still present at the site, which is considered an archaeological treasure.
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