Please browse this page for our mostly frequently asked questions about our work and what we can respond to, fishing, diving, and more. If you have a question for us that is not answered here, contact us.
What is the Nature Foundation?
The Nature Foundation is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that assists the government of Sint Maarten (the “Dutch Side”) in all issues related to the management of the environment and its preservation. As the scientific and management authority of St. Maarten, the Nature Foundation is active in research, surveying, monitoring, enforcement, education, and law. Learn more.
What counts as an after-hour emergency?
The Nature Foundation will respond to heavy fuel oil spills, wildlife animal injuries, sea turtle nesting activity, and illegal fishing and anchoring in the marine park. Please call +1-721-581-6365 or +1-721-581-6369 if reporting any of these emergencies after regular opening hours.
What types of issues do we respond to?
- Marine Park and diving inquires
- Wild animal management
- Nesting sea turtle sightings
- Flora and fauna monitoring
- Damaged moorings
- Environmental disasters
- Illegal vegetation clearing
- Import/export of protected species
- Environmental research proposals
- Educational initiatives
- School presentations
- Water quality testing
Please contact us to find out whether or not we can help with a particular issue.
What types of issues do we not handle?
- Domestic animal problems
- Pest control and removal
- Diving emergencies
- Waste management
- Maritime violations
- Vessel inspections
Please visit our Contacts and Referrals page to find the contact information for the organizations and agencies that handle these issues.
How can I volunteer or intern?
Volunteering – Fill out this volunteer form. The Foundation will add you to an email list and reach out when a volunteering opportunity arises.
Interning – The Foundation has a handful of spots available to research and ranger interns each year. We evaluate each candidate on the basis of experience and availability. Please visit our internship page to find out how to apply for an internship.
Is there a website about diving in St. Maarten?
Yes – you can find relevant diving information, including registering, local dive shops, and regulations in the portion of our website about to scuba diving.
What is the equivalent environmental organization on the French side?
The Réserve Naturelle is the equivalent environmental organization for Saint-Martin, the “French side.” Please refer to the Réserve for any issues pertaining to St. Martin’s territory.
Do we accept donations?
Yes, we do, and we depend on the generosity of our donors to fund our work! Please visit our donate page to learn more.
Can I fish recreationally in St. Maarten as a non-resident?
For the most part, no — recreational fishing in St. Maarten’s waters is strictly authorized to the country’s residents unless you are in possession of a valid fishing license. You are also able to go fishing using a legal fishing charter service that has the proper permitting.
Do commercial and sports fisherman need a license to operate?
Yes. Commercial and sports fisherman, including charters, must receive a one-year permit to legally operate after inspection by the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT).
What are the laws regarding fishing in the marine park or on dive sites?
Fishing is strictly prohibited anywhere in the Man of War Shoal Marine Park, and no type of fishing is permitted within 50 meters (150 feet) of any dive site, whether in the marine park or not.
Can I go spearfishing on St. Maarten?
No — it is illegal to possess or use a speargun anywhere on St. Maarten, whether in the water or on land, without the possession of a legal speargun license. The license is a weapons permit obtained through Korps Politie Sint Maarten, our local police department.
Are the laws for fishing on St. Maarten (Dutch side) the same as on Saint-Martin (French side)?
No — St. Maarten and St. Martin are two separate countries with differing rules. We only educate the community about the Dutch side laws and are not reliably informed about the French laws and regulations. Please refer to the Réserve Naturelle with questions for the French side.
Please see our Diving page to view all the FAQs about diving in St. Maarten.
I am visiting St. Maarten and diving with a local dive club on their boat. What do I need to register for?
Just the dive tag, but most local dive clubs will include the dive tag fee in their package so visitors don’t have to do anything. We recommend that visitors verify that their tags have already been purchased by the dive shop.
I’m a local resident on St. Maarten, not a visitor or tourist. What do I need to do to dive?
St. Maarten/St. Martin residents are not required to purchase dive tag. However, locals still have to register their vessel and pay an annual fee if they are diving from their own boat anywhere in St. Maarten.
Do I need to register with the Nature Foundation when diving on French sites, such as Creole Rock?
No — the Nature Foundation only manages the moorings and dive sites belonging to the Dutch side of St. Maarten. For information about diving on the French side of St. Martin, please contact the Réserve Naturelle.
I have my own boat and want to dive on St. Maarten. Can I do this?
Yes — you must register your vessel with the Nature Foundation and pay an annual fee via check, cash, or wire transfer. If you are a visitor to the island, you must additionally purchase dive tags for each diver.
I found an injured animal. What do I do?
If it is a domesticated animal such as a dog, horse, goat, cow, or cat, please see our Contacts and Referrals page to find an organization that can help.
If it is a wild animal, such as a sea turtle, bird, raccoon, monkey, or mongoose, please see our Report An Injured or Invasive Animal page for more information.
Can I drive my vehicle, motorbike, or ATV on the beaches in St. Maarten?
No — it is illegal to drive any motorized vehicle on our beaches due to the irreparable damage done to St. Maarten’s wildlife. During sea turtle nesting season (April-November), the weight and vibration of vehicles on the sand can easily destroy sea turtle nests and crush the hatchlings inside the eggs. Additionally, the paths are not hardened or built for transport, so vehicles frequently become stuck in the sand.
Can I take shells off SXM with me?
No. Some shells are protected and therefore you would need a CITES permit to transport them off the island. The Nature Foundation is the only organization on St. Maarten that can offer these permits. For shells that do not fall under this category, we still do not recommend exporting them as they could provide natural habitats for our native species. Removing any shells from our environment can effect the local ecosystem.