SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Member of Parliament (MP) Claudius “Toontje” Buncamper of the USP faction in parliament, on Wednesday forwarded a letter to the council of ministers expressing his concern about the progress of the ongoing cleaning of boat wrecks in the Simpson Bay Lagoon and it’s shorelines and the Oyster Pond while the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season approaches.
While he praised the organization for the decommissioning for the wrecks, the MP stated that it is unfortunate that the wrecks on the French part of the lagoon are not part of this program and that he is extremely concerned that the environmental aspect of the works will not meet its potential long-term goal.
The MP also noted that the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season starts in 26 days and the water in the lagoon shows no regards to the border. MP Buncamper questioned if any sort of agreement exists with the French part of the island regarding the removal of the wrecks in their waters to safeguard what can still be salvaged of our lagoon.
And more disturbing to the MP is the Oyster pond lagoon which has been left unattended since the passing of Hurricane Irma in 2017 due to the World Bank’s statement that they “do not carry our works in disputed territories.”
“While I understand the World Bank’s position, I cannot understand our government’s position nor that of the Netherlands” the MP mentioned. “We are all aware of what part of the Oyster Pond Lagoon is being disputed, yet we allow the lagoon to suffer serious environmental damages because of the nonchalant behavior of the Netherlands.” In his letter addressed to the council of ministers, MP Buncamper noted that after Hurricane Irma the French government discharged a barge into the Oyster Pond Lagoon and cleaned up nearly all of the sunken vessels there.
“I cannot accept that our government has not yet contacted the Ministry of Foreign affairs in the Netherlands to indicate clearly which specific area of the Oyster Pond Lagoon is under dispute with the French Government, to enable the World Bank to amend the ongoing project for the removal of shipwrecks to include the Oyster Pond Lagoon.”
MP Buncamper warned against allowing the cleaning team and their equipment to leave the island before completing the project, which will result in the environmental destruction of the Oyster Pond Lagoon for unnecessary reasons.
The French government has indicated to the Dutch Government, and by extension the St. Maarten government, exactly what portion of the Oyster Pond Lagoon they claim is their territory. So, we can at least start to clean up the rest while we discuss the disputed part. “In my opinion, such a compromise cannot be too farfetched” the MP stated. “This will show that we truly care about the environment and that we are willing to do more than just talk about it” MP Buncamper concluded.