One of Sint Maarten’s most important wetlands, Mullet Pond, was cleaned and restored by the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation as a part of the organization’s environmental response post hurricanes Irma and Maria. Mullet Pond is listed as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Treaty. The Ramsar Convention, signed in Iran in 1971, is a global commitment to maintain the ecological character of global wetland areas, including in the wider Caribbean region.
“Using the disaster relief funds provided to us by the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance we were able to use volunteers to clean one of the most important and one of the only protected wetland areas we have on the island. Mullet Pond is a critical ecosystem for us on the island as it contains the last intact mangrove forest within the Simpson Bay Lagoon. Unfortunately the area was also illegally used in the storms as a protected anchorage area and numerous boats sank, in particular the Mullet Pond Inlet. We used divers and volunteers from the community to clean the area both under and above water and removed six dump truckloads of debris,” commented Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Manager.
Given the importance of the area the Nature Foundation paused its beach clean-up activities in order to focus on Mullet Pond; “Although it is important to focus on the beach cleanups we are also responsible for other natural areas. Because of its unique characteristics and international status we made the clean-up and restoration of Mullet Pond one of our priorities moving forward. We have also discussed with the authorities ways in which we can place moorings outside of critical nature habitat in the area so that vessel owners can still protect their vessels while at the same time protecting sensitive natural areas. In particular a houseboat illegally sought shelter in the area significant damage occurred and we need to prevent this in the future. Although we cleaned and restored the area significantly, we still have our work cut out for us in bringing the area close to the level it was before,” concluded Bervoets.