The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation has expressed significant concern regarding the way beaches and beach access have been managed since the passage of Hurricane Irma. The Foundation has had to respond several times to issues affecting beaches on the island ranging from beach construction, heavy equipment and other vehicles driving and parking on the beaches, structures such as fences being built, significant amount of trash being left on beaches, and beach access being restricted. “Over the past few months we have constantly been faced with having to respond to issues occurring on the beaches. We would like to remind both the public and decision makers that beaches are our most important natural resource and all must be done to protect and sustainably develop this resource. Unsustainable activities such as beach construction, driving on beaches and littering on beaches not only has significant environmental effects but also affects the economy and the image of Sint Maarten as we are trying to rebuild, ” stated Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets.
Bervoets continued by stating that the protection, conservation and proper management of beaches should be established in law, “The Nature Foundation would like to call on Parliament to come with concrete legislation on how beaches should be managed and protected in terms of their ecological and economic importance. There is, or was, a Beach Policy in place but for all intents and purposes this policy is non-functioning or not being taken into consideration. Poor trash pick-up, parking and driving on beaches, and beach construction are fundamental issues hampering the sustainable use of one of our greatest natural assets and is hampering our recovery post hurricane Irma,” concluded Bervoets.
The Nature Foundation is calling for a structured management plan of the country’s beaches, protecting and managing the resource sustainable to increase and support the recovery of Sint Maarten.