After having been away for three years, during which time I was managing other marine protected areas, and implemented the AGOA sanctuary for marine mammals in the French Antilles, it is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that I return to the Saint-Martin Nature Reserve and its team. And with pride I note the presence of many sea turtles in our waters, better coral cover, a greater abundance of fish, and a greater recovery of mangroves on the banks of certain salt ponds.
The Nature Reserve’s Advisory Committee last met at the Prefecture on April 26th, 2013. The meeting brought together all parties involved in the management of the protected areas, including the State, the Collectivity, Reserve users, scientists... It was the occasion to draw up an accurate assessment of the Nature Reserve’s projects, thanks to the presentation of the 2012 Report of Activities, and give updates on several important issues (read the following articles).
En avril 2012, une mission scientifique annonçait avoir identifié plus de 700 espèces marines dans les eaux de la Réserve, mais ce sont finalement 818 espèces très exactement qui ont pu être décrites à l’issue de cette mission, dont certaines étaient inconnues jusque-là! Jean-Philippe Maréchal, l’un des sept scientifiques de cette mission financée par l’État, a restitué tous les résultats à l’occasion du comité consultatif. Il s’avère que la baie de l’Embouchure – dite baie du Galion – constitue le site possédant la biodiversité la plus importante.
On March 29th, two days before Easter, a hectare of dry forest on Pinel Island was reduced to a pile of ashes because of an unauthorized barbecue. The efficient intervention from the firefighters helped to limit the damage, but it is really unfortunate that the anonymous culprit did not comply with the ban on lighting fires in the reserve and did not use the fire points installed by guards on the island. A meeting is planned at the Prefecture between the Firefighters and the Reserve Officers to improve their response capacity in the event of a possible fire.
The reorganization within the Nature Reserve was presented to the Advisory Committee members.
After having set up the governing body of Mayotte’s Natural Marine Park and put into place the first management steps of the AGOA Sanctuary to protect marine mammals in the French Antilles, Nicolas Maslach returned, on May 26th, to his position as Conservation Director of the Nature Reserve.
With the regular growth in the strength of its missions, Nicolas Maslach wishes to optimize its actions around four key areas of expertise:
At the Advisory Committee meeting, Fedmer, a fishermen’s association, brought forward the eventual possibility of bait-and-spinner fishing in the protected waters of the reserve. It was decided to set up a working group for this issue. This group will combine professional fishermen and scientists from the Nature Reserve to study - in the beginning - the methods of implementation of seasonal fishing.
Since returning to the position of Director at the reserve, Nicolas Maslach has been working on the realization of the Nature Reserve’s Head Office, a project included in the Management Plan and submitted for approval to the Advisory Committee members. In order to establish the Headquarters at the Reserve, this ambitious program would entail the creation of a center of expertise for research, environment and ecotourism in Saint-Martin.
From March 5th to 11th, the Nature Reserve was on the water participating in the third mission of marine mammal monitoring organized by the AGOA sanctuary. Two catamarans hosted teams from Saint-Martin, St. Barts, Anguilla, Saba and St. Eustatius, as well as two experts in marine mammals, one from the US and the other from Canada, stationed on the island of Dominica. The idea of this monitoring is to determine the distribution and abundance of marine mammals in the waters of the Îles du Nord and from the Saba plateau; and the ideal weather conditions resulted in numerous observations.
The beach restaurant on Pinel island, “The Key”, has been demolished. This long-awaited demolition is the culmination of several years of litigation. A recap: this restaurant, that was already illegal, built on further extensions by way of a first floor in 2008, without any permission. The establishment refused to comply, unlike its neighbors, and ignored the environmental requirements and the payment of a fee to the Nature Reserve that goes towards the management of the sites.
espaces protégés Le Journal de la Réserve Naturelle Nationale de Saint-Martin N°18 Juillet 2013 Managing The Impact Of Human Activities In Protected Areas Saint-Martin had the honor of hosting the annual meeting of the Conseil des Rivages Français d’Amérique (CRFA), from April 4th to 6th, 2013. The plenary session was held at the Beach Plaza Hotel and more than 70 attendees were present.
We’ll know very soon if lionfish carry Ciguatera toxin or not. A meeting with fishermen, marine professionals and managers of marine protected areas is already scheduled for July 2013 so that scientific advisors can present their conclusions, and the correct information can then be communicated to the different areas concerned.
Le 28 février
les gardes de la Réserve naturelle ont dressé un procès-verbal au titre de la loi sur l’eau à un hôtel pour une pollution et un déversement d’eaux usées dans le Grand étang des Terres Basses. Cette pollution est due à un dysfonctionnement du réseau d’assainissement de l’hôtel, resté sans solution depuis plusieurs années.
The unfortunate salt pond in Chevrise had just withstood a proliferation of green algae due to previous
pollution, when it then had to deal with a fresh sewage spill during the long weekend of May
8th. The leak came from an overflowing sewage pipe from a private network along the road to Mont
Vernon. Alerted by , the Reserve and the Conservatoire du Littoral, immediately gave formal notice to
the managing syndicate of the development and the reserve guards made sure the repair was done
211 rats and 79 mice were trapped during a capturing campaign lasting about 2 weeks on the islands of Tintamare, Pinel, Green Cay and Creole Rock. 200 traps were baited with harmless peanut butter and rolled oats, so as not to kill other species other than these rodents. This management campaign for small mammals took place from March 4th to 14th, 2013 and will be carried out again next year at the same time, just before egg-laying season.
Nicolas Maslach, the Reserve’s Conservationist, accompanied by Julien Chalifour, Head of the Scientific Department, participated in a video conference in Guadeloupe, with the Ministry of Environment. The agenda was dedicated to the progress of the National Plan for the restoration of marine turtles, and to its actions. The conference was held in the presence of DEAL Guadeloupe (Environmental Management Body) and the National Office for Hunting and Wild Fauna (ONCFS), who are responsible for monitoring this plan in Guadeloupe.
Even although the Nature Reserve keeps a close watch on Pinel Island; it still remains a highly fragile site.
As it is a very popular spot and relatively near to the coast, it is vulnerable to possible pollution, especially the marine environment.
In order to make an accurate assessment of the seabed around the island, the Nature Reserve gave Aurélien Schmitt the task of mapping out the benthic zones around Pinel, ie: living ground cover on the seabed (coral, sea grass and algae...).
At the end of the tourist season, the Reserve rangers drew up a rather
negative report on the state of the moorings installed around Pinel,
Tintamare and Créole Rock, some users are not respecting the limits
of resistance even although it is clearly engraved on the buoys, others
cut through the ends with their propeller or even share moorings with
other boats. Eleven of these moorings have become unusable and
require underwater work to repair them. At Pinel, the weight of five
moorings was doubled from 800kgs to 1.6 tons.
The new Commander of the Gendarmerie, Paul
Bétaille, the Public Prosecutor, Flavien Noailles,
and the Public Prosecutor’s Delegate, Daniel Vigoulette,
were taken out by the Reserve in their
boat, the Contender, to visit Creole Rock, Pinel
and Tintamare; a discovery trip organized specifically
for them. This boat trip out into the field
has given them a clearer image on issues of procedure
and has left them with a better understanding
of the context in which certain offenses
occur. It was also an opportunity to highlight the
The tropical sun has the unfortunate tendency to deteriorate exterior signboards, making
them illegible in three or four years. There have also been several acts of vandalism
on existing signboards. This however, won’t be the case for the educational
signboards recently put up by the Conservatoire du littoral on Pinel, at Coralita and
along the trail of Froussards, nor those erected around the Barriére Salt Pond. They
are made from a UV-resistant material (layered digital printing), and are more resistant
Thirty million tourists visit the Caribbean each year. Two million of them choose Saint-Martin, where the tourism industry comes first, and they have estimated that 400,000 visit the Nature Reserve. On these fragile sites, often under threat, how can they welcome visitors without destroying sites? Consequently, sustainable tourism was the subject discussed in great depth, from June 12th to 14th at the Mercure Hotel in Saint-Martin, where TE ME UM and CAR-SPAW had invited area managers of marine protected areas.
The annual conference for all French Nature Reserves was held April 15th to 20th, 2013, in Louan, near to Provins. Saint-Martin’s reserve was represented by Romain Renoux, accompanied by Julien Chalifour, Head of the Scientific Division, and Franck Roncuzzi, Head of the Nature Police Division. Like all other overseas territory reserves, which together make up the greatest ecological richness of France, Saint-Martin’s reserve presented their missions and activities performed.
The workers guild between managers of protected natural sites allows these professionals to share their practices, to benefit from the experience of others and to help others benefit from their own experience. Thus, Soraya Issop Mamode, Director of GIP - management body of Reunion’s National Marine Nature Reserve in the Indian Ocean - and Yanick Clain, Head of the Reserve’s Police and Surveillance Unit, were welcomed by the Saint-Martin Nature Reserve for one week in early June 2013, after having spent the previous week in two of Guadeloupe’s reserves; Petite-Terre and Désirade.
Congratulations to Îles Caraïbes Magazine
In the latest edition of Îles Caraïbes Magazine, the Nature Reserve was the subject of an excellent article written by Aurélien Brusini, who is also the photographer of some beautiful pictures that put the fauna and flora of this protected area in real value.