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Soualiga News 3 (1622)

On the Slaughter of Sharks and Why We Must Save Them

Dear Editor, COMMENTARY, SINT MAARTEN - Last week I had the honor of joining colleagues from the World Wildlife Fund, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and from Research Institutes and Nature Management Organizations from around the region on a research expedition to one of the most significant Marine Protected Areas in the Caribbean: the Saba Bank. During the expedition, on which we remained at sea on an expedition ship for six days, we researched fish populations using scuba in waters that are famously deep and rough. We understood the importance of our work considering that it would contribute to the proper management of fisheries on the Saba Bank and the conservation of its resources for generations to come. My fellow scientists and I researched fish ranging from Grouper to Snapper, Damselfish to Butterflyfish. From Barracuda to what was undoubtedly everyone’s favorite animal: sharks. We saw sharks on every dive on healthy reefs, evidence that these animals keep the population of especially commercially important fish species healthy by maintaining a healthy reef.

On the morning of Wednesday the 21st of October I connected my phone to the satellite receiver of the expedition ship and I was first quite upset, then saddened to see what many of my friends and colleagues from St. Maarten, St. Martin, Anguilla and around the world tagged me in: it was a Facebook video allegedly taken in Anguilla of a Tiger Shark caught close to St. Martin. The animal was dragged to shore; a rope tied around its tail and pulled quite unceremoniously up the beach by a truck. It was then left to suffocate, suffer and die.

I was upset and saddened at how, in 2015, with all of the information out there on how sharks are so important to our ocean’s ecosystem, that they are not the mindless killers that they were made out to be by the media, that they are one of the most endangered animals on the planet, how can us island people who have such a close connection to the sea not realize that we have now removed one of the most important animals in the oceanic food chain? I then realized that misconceptions are still a major issue regarding how we perceive sharks.

Sharks are essential to the health of our ocean: they are top-level ocean predators and their essential role in the ecosystem is to keep it in balance, ensuring that the whole food chain remains intact and functioning. If sharks are removed the population of animals that they prey on will become unbalanced and our reefs, and the fisheries which depend on them, will collapse. The recent Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary that was established through the blessing of Dutch State Secretary for Economic Affairs Sharon Dijksma in September, protects all sharks. And the text establishing the Sanctuary specifically mentions their importance to fisheries.

Sharks are also not the mindless predators we have been led to believe by movies and books and television series. I would recommend your readers to consider this the next time they use their telephone cameras to take a picture of themselves and their friends at say, a nightclub: the act of taking a selfie has killed more people in 2015 than in three years by sharks. And New Yorkers have bitten more people than sharks ever can and ever will, often times with more deadly consequences. Think about this the next time a flight arrives from JFK. Yet we are led to believe that these animals are mindless killing machines out to consume unsuspecting bathers. All this while annually humans kill one hundred million sharks a year. 100.000.000. Annually. Some estimates say that some sharks will be extinct by 2030, followed by many other species of fish, followed by the way of life we know as Caribbean people.

Aside from these facts, all of them established in science, the act of tying up a live animal, which from the video looks like a pregnant female, and dragging it up the beach causing it to suffocate is just cruel. Where is our moral compass, our realization that we are part of a whole with all of the creatures of this planet? Where is the realization that we should and must show compassion for all life? I find it difficult to believe that the people who were seen dragging this animal up the beach and seeing it suffocate and die did not feel some type of remorse, did not consider that this is a living thing that had a life, an animal that has seen things in the ocean that we never will, that has evolved much earlier than us and has formed the foundation of our very existence. I find it hard to acknowledge that somewhere, deep down in their hearts, they did not feel some form of negative emotion in doing this to such a magnificent example of God’s creation.

The Nature Foundation, with its other partners in the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance, has embarked on a three-year shark conservation program that not only involves research and protection but also has a large educational component. It seems as if we have a long way to go in changing people’s perception of sharks, which luckily, are protected in the territorial waters of St. Maarten.

These animals are some of the most misunderstood, maligned yet most important creatures in our seas. Healthy Reefs Need Sharks. And to do this we should collectively Save our Sharks. Not only for their sake but, ultimately, for ours.

Tadzio Bervoets

Manager Sint Maarten Nature Foundation

Guana Bay Rd 78

Sint Maarten.

COMMENTARY: The content above is the sole responsibility of the author.

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CBS: “Trends in the Caribbean Netherlands 2015” is out

BES ISLANDS (Bonaire, St. Eustatius, Saba Caribbean Netherlands) - “18% population growth in the Caribbean Netherlands since 2010”

“14% decrease in import value in 2014 on St Eustatius”

“58% of the population of Bonaire is born on one of the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles or Aruba”

“5% of the population of Saba is born in the European part of the Netherlands”

This and many more interesting facts are included in the new CBS publication: “Trends in the Caribbean Netherlands 2015” that was published on Wednesday, 21st October.

The publication is also electronically available:

http://www.cbs.nl/en-GB/menu/themas/dossiers/nederland-regionaal/publicaties/artikelen/archief/2015/2015-trends-in-the-caribbean-netherlands-en-pdf.htm

If you are interested in this publication you can visit the office on Bonaire or contact CBS through facebook (statistiekcbs.cn) or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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CPS Reminder: Stop Mosquitos from Breeding by Eliminating Stagnant Water. Action needed after recent rain showers

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Collective Preventive Services (CPS), a government department under the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is calling on the community to take action to prevent mosquito breeding as a reminder since current rain showers has the potential to increase the number of mosquitos.

Preventative measures are needed and will go a long way in preventing one getting dengue, zika or chikungunya.

Dengue fever, zika and chikungunya are transmitted by the female vector Aedes Aegypti mosquito. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito is distinguished by its markings. The body of the mosquito has alternate black and white horizontal stripes. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito lays her eggs in clear (clean) stagnant water. Within eight days the mosquito can complete its life cycle from egg, to larvae to pupae and to and adult mosquito.

Persons are therefore requested to keep their homes, yards, neighborhoods and work environment free from potential mosquito breeding sites.

Actively destroy or dispose of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools or other containers that collect and hold water. Do not allow water to accumulate in the saucers of flowerpots, cemetery urns/vase or in pet dishes for more than two days.  Throw out the water and turn them over every time it collects water.

Clean debris from rain gutters and remove any standing water under or around structures, or on flat roofs. Check around faucets and air conditioner units and repair leaks or eliminate puddles that remain for several days.

Change the water in birdbaths and wading pools at least once a week. The treatment of ornamental pools should be discussed with the experts. Fill or drain puddles, ditches and swampy areas, and/or remove, drain or fill tree holes and stumps with mortar and regularly treat and monitor.

Eliminate seepage from cisterns, cesspools, and septic tanks. Eliminate standing water around animal watering troughs. Flush livestock water troughs twice a week.

Check for trapped water in plastic or canvas tarps used to cover boats, pools, plastic bags, foam dishes or even plastic cups strewn on the road side.

Clean the dead leaves from banana and coconut trees.  Adult mosquitoes prefer to rest on weeds and other vegetation.  Homeowners can reduce the number of areas where adult mosquitoes prefer to rest on weeds and other vegetation.  Trim overgrown vegetation.

Check around construction sites or do-it-yourself improvements to ensure that proper backfilling and grading is realized to prevent drainage problems which can be a source for standing water.  Empty all construction containers such as blue tanks, buckets, paint cans etc.

Irrigate lawns and gardens carefully to prevent water from standing for several days.  If ditches do not flow and contain stagnant water for one week or longer, they can produce large numbers of mosquitoes. Report such conditions to the respective government agency. 

Mosquitoes can be kept out of the home by keeping windows, doors and porches tightly screened (16-18 mesh). Those insects that do get into structures can be eliminated with a fly swatter or an aerosol space spray containing synergized pyrethrum.

Adult mosquitoes prefer to rest on weeds and other vegetation. Homeowners can reduce the number of areas where adult mosquitoes can find shelter by cutting down weeds adjacent to the house foundation and in their yards, and mowing the lawn regularly. To further reduce adult mosquitoes harboring in vegetation, insecticides may be applied to the lower limbs of shade trees, shrubs and other vegetation. Screen off cistern outlets, cover and screen septic tanks properly.

The aforementioned measures should also be taken in and around the workplace, social gatherings and living quarters to eliminate mosquito breeding sources.

An increase in the mosquito population puts residents at risk. For information about dengue fever, zika and chikungunya prevention measures, you can call CPS at 542-2078 or 542-3003. 

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Minister Fleming-Artsen attends final event celebrating 200th anniversary of the Kingdom

THE HAGUE, the Netherlands - Sint Maarten Minister Plenipotentiary Josianne Fleming-Artsen, attended the closing event celebration of Kingdom of the Netherlands 200 Years, in The Hague at the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament.  The celebrations marked the bicentenary.  Speeches were made by various dignitaries including the Dutch Prime Minister and Chair persons from the First and Second Chambers of the Dutch Parliament.

“Everyone seemed to have enjoyed a very contemporary ceremony of the 200 year celebration of the two Dutch Chambers of Parliament.

“The ceremony was very light and very fresh with lots of beautiful singing.  It was an event that highlighted the countries – the Netherlands – main mode of transportation, the bicycle,” Minister Fleming-Artsen said on Sunday.

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8 is more than 7

COMMENTARY/SINT MAARTEN - I read the PM's "weighing in on the political turmoil" and would like to comment:

In 2013 the UP wanted to come into government and (rightfully so) proclaimed 8 Parliamentary seats to be more than 7. The battle between proponents of Article 33-2 and Article 59 ensued. Article 59 was invoked by the NATIONAL ALLIANCE led WESCOT 2 cabinet, but lost. The UP led WESCOT 3 cabinet was sworn in and William's NA was out.

Fast forward to 2015: The NA wants to come into government and (again rightfully so) proclaims 8 Parliamentary seats are more than 7. Again the battle between proponents of Article 33-2 and Article 59 is raging. This time Article 59 is being invoked by the UP led Gumbs cabinet....except, NOW the UP led Gumbs Cabinet (shoe-on-other-foot) refuses to practice what the then UP led coalition of 8 preached in 2013! So what IS the difference between 2013 and 2015? UP was OUT then and wanted to come IN, while now, UP is IN and refuses to come OUT.

Mind you, IF there were snap elections called now, most, if not (hopefully) ALL the jumpers would see an expedited end to their political career, which, according to me, would be a GOOD thing. Another issue to consider is the fact that in case no snap elections are called, it is NOT nice to have a government supported by a Parliamentary majority of one single seat (which could be ANY of the 8 supporting Parliamentarians), of which one that has a criminal conviction hanging over his head.

Which begs the question: What happens with this new 8 seat coalition IF in 2016 the Appellate Court upholds the decision of the Court of First Instance in the Sylvio Matser case and the good gentleman has to vacate his Parliamentary seat? That seat will then be filled by the next UP candidate up and government will fall again, as then also: 8 remains more than 7.

To conclude: 8 is ALWAYS more than 7 and therefore this NON-legal-scholar maintains that  AS LONG AS THERE IS A MAJORITY IN PALIAMENT, Article 33-2 MUST be applied before Article 59 can be considered.

The Gumbs UP cabinet must follow the lead of the WESCOT 2 UP cabinet and let go! William is up next!

Michael J. Ferrier

COMMENTARY – The comments made here are the sole responsibility of the author.

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Urgent Closed Door Central Committee meeting of Parliament on Crime set for October 14

PHILIPSBURG – The House of Parliament will meet in an urgent closed door Central Committee meeting on October 14.

The closed door Central Committee meeting is set for Wednesday, at 2.00pm in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelmina Straat #1 in Philipsburg. 

The agenda point is a discussion on a comprehensive approach of Government to accomplish short term results with regards to the recent spate of crime on Sint Maarten.

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CUBA GETTING U.S. VISITORS CONTINUES TO BE FOCUS AT CARIBBEAN HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY EXCHANGE FORUM

THE CARIBBEAN - Cuba: Opportunity or Threat? was the final General Session at the Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF) in Puerto Rico over the weekend and the general consensus appeared to be cautious optimism based on expectations of diversion of visitors from other countries, but overall a chance to highlight the diversity of the culture of the region. There was also concurrence that the entire Caribbean can shine as the spotlight falls on Cuba, exposing more potential travelers to the rich diversity and culture of the region.   

CHIEF was organized by the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) and held at El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort in Puerto Rico.           

Cuba continued to be the focus of many conversations as the U.S. moves forward with the opening of relations which will eventually enable U.S. citizens to vacation there.  There has been much speculation of what the impact will be including some dire predictions that similar destinations such as the Dominican Republic and those with a higher percentage of U.S. visitors will suffer the most.

Simon Suarez, president of ASONAHORES (the Dominican Republic hotel association), said, "We have been very vocal calling for the end of the embargo on Cuba and we expect the government of Cuba to become a viable partner in the tourism industry. We have been competing with Cuba in every other market except the United States for the past 30 years. However, the pie needs to be made larger."           

Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), noted that "Some people believe that the change is an opportunity. Will this magnet suck away visitors from others or will this magnet draw additional visitors. An optimist like me sees this as an opportunity to increase the slice of the pie."           

Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, Principal Partner, Bedford Baker Group, said, "Those countries relying on the U.S. as their primary market are going to have to pay close attention. Just as Donald Trump does not have to spend money to get into the news with his statements, Cuba will get a lot of news coverage when it opens up its doors to U.S. visitors."           

Vanderpool-Wallace added: "A result of that is destinations will have to diversify source markets which will ultimately make the Caribbean stronger. And I suspect that other countries will pay more attention to promoting culture as a focus for visitor experiences."           

A more cautious note was offered by Marla Dukharan, Group Economist, Caribbean Banking, Royal Bank of Canada, saying: "With occupancy levels of just over 55 percent, Cuba could accommodate nearly twice as many visitors." She also warned that "Less U.S. dollars will flow into other countries when more comes into Cuba and there will also be tax incentives offered to developers."           

Riley suggested that "The Cuban situation has forced other countries to look into their own incentives to bring new business to their destinations."

This highly-anticipated session was moderated by Anton Edmunds, Principal, The Edmunds Group International.  "The efforts towards the normalization of trade and travel between the United States and Cuba opens the door to a renewed focus on Caribbean tourism," said Edmunds. "Whether this presents an opportunity or a threat depends in large measure upon the region's stakeholders," he added.

The panelists expanded upon points raised in a paper released by CHTA this summer titled: "Cuba: The Great Disruption for the Good of the Caribbean." The paper sparked debate within the region about the impact which the lifting of the U.S. trade and travel embargo would have on the industry. While the general consensus was to embrace full normalization, numerous concerns surfaced.

There is a consensus within CHTA and the region's private sector that the Caribbean must do a better job at embracing tourism as its primary economic development and employment generation tool and a means to reduce the mounting debt of many jurisdictions.

"Our aim is to raise awareness about both the challenges and the opportunities to the region following the removal of travel barriers to Cuba," said Emil Lee, president of CHTA. "Now that the issue has had a few months to marinate, we have a clearer vision and look forward to sharing insider insight with attendees," Lee added.

CHIEF was organized with the support of patron sponsors Interval International and MasterCard; platinum sponsors Cable and Wireless, JetBlue Getaways, Travelzoo and TripAdvisor, gold sponsors Adara, Aireko, AskMe, Best Doctors, Bonnier Corp, Cape Air, CaribbeanJobs.com, Choice Hotels International, Expedia, JackRabbit Systems Inc., Lutron Electronics, MobiManage, OBMI, Oracle, Sojern, STR, The New York Times, travAlliancemedia and World Media, wine sponsor Wines by Esser Wines and Education Partner Florida International University.

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Sint Maarten Youth Parliament Organizes the Best Walk of Your Life Fundraiser

COMMUNITY NOTICE - Sint Maarten Youth Parliament presents, “The Best Walk of Your Life” a fundraising walk-a-thon promoting the convention on the Rights of the Child.

Date: Saturday 31st October 2015

Time: 5.00am

Route: Le Grande Mache (Bush Road), via Link one, Front Street, Walter Nisbeth Road, Le Grande Mache (Bush Road)

Price: $10 (shirt and breakfast included)

Tickets are available from any member or at the Rupert I. Maynard Youth Community Center (Next to the basketball court in St. Peters)

Proceeds in aid of Sint Maarten Youth Parliament.

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Training for Participation Councils Schools

ST. EUSTATIUS (Caribbean Netherlands) - The participation councils (MRs) of the schools on Saba, St. Eustatius and Bonaire recently went through an advanced training. The purpose of this training was to deepen and strengthen the knowledge and skills of the MR-members where necessary.

The topics dealt with included verbal versus non-verbal communication, listening skills, argumentation and negotiation. The programme also included an evaluation of the way participation is developing and which challenges the councils are encountering in their work. This differs per school.

The training was conducted by Marco Sikkel and Alphons de Lange of the knowledge- and service centre CAOP which specialises in labour affairs. In 2014 participation was implemented at the schools in the Caribbean Netherlands on a limited level and the current MR- council members have been active for one year.

On the picture the participating MR-council members of the schools on St. Eustatius with trainer Marco Sikkel at the extreme left and trainer Alphons de Lange at the extreme right. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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JICN and SVP-CN signed an agreement of cooperation

BONAIRE (Caribbean Netherlands) - On September 24th, the Director of JICN, Patricia Hassell and the Director SVP-CN (addiction treatment and Psychiatry) Erik Jansen, signed an agreement of cooperation.

By signing this document both parties have perpetuated their cooperation. Parties have agreed to work together in the field of prevention, information, guidance and treatment of detainees during detention and aftercare by addiction treatment after detention.

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