Sint Maarten’s most important wetland, Mullet Pond, was cleared of the massive houseboat that sank after Hurricane Irma on Wednesday. With the help of local dive company Atlantech Divers the Foundation was able to remove the houseboat to a location outside of the conservation zone. “We are so very grateful to the team from Atlantech Divers Jaco Pieterse and Mason Chadwick for their assistance in removing the houseboat,” commented Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Manager. The Foundation previously cleaned and restored sections of Mullet Pond as part of the organization’s environmental response post hurricanes Irma and Maria, however the Houseboat proved too much for the organization’s limited resources. 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.
Mullet Pond is a critical ecosystem for 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 and numerous boats sank.
“Because of its unique characteristics and international status we made the clean-up and restoration of Mullet Pond one of our priorities during the clean-up and restoration phase post-irma. 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 the houseboat which illegally sought shelter in the area caused significant damage and we need to prevent this in the future,” concluded Bervoets.