La Réserve naturelle de Saint-Martin est une aire marine protégée de 30km2 située au nord-est de l’île de Saint-Martin. Créé en 1998, cet espace préserve les cinq principaux écosystèmes de l’île : récifs coralliens, mangroves, herbiers de phanérogames, étangs et forêt sèche littorale. La Réserve gère également les 14 étangs du Conservatoire du littoral et ses 11 km de rivages terrestres naturels.

Newsletter-19

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Newsletter-19

Edito #19

Pierre Aliotti
Pierre aliotti - Vice-President of the Management Association of Saint-Martin’s National Nature Reserve

De gauche à droite / From left to right

Le Capitaine Sylvain Jouault, le Vice-Recteur Jean-Marie Jespère, le Vice-Procureur Flavien Noailles, Romain Renoux (RN), Julien Chalifour (RN), Nicolas Maslach (RN), le Député Daniel Gibbs, le Président de l’Association de la Réserve Naturelle Hervé Viotty, le Préfet de Saint-Barthélemy et Saint-Martin Philippe Chopin, Franck Roncuzzi (RN), Steeve Ruillet (RN), Daniel Lewis (RN) et Christophe Joe (RN)

Voeux 2014
The Saint-Martin Nature Reserve wishes you the very best for 2014

 

 

Better Knowledge About Protected Areas And Protected Species

Le grand dauphin Tursiops truncatus The bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus © Nicolas Maslach
Le grand dauphin Tursiops truncatus The bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus © Nicolas Maslach

On November 15th at the Mercure Hotel, Romain Renoux, in charge of the AGOA Sanctuary in Saint-Martin, presented the results of the marine mammal monitoring programs, initiated by Nicolas Maslach within the Sanctuary and carried out in the Îles du Nord over 2012 and 2013. Over the 3 seasons, 1,022km of transects were completed around Saint-Martin and Saint Barthelemy, and 1,400km around Anguilla, Saint Eustatius and Saba. 68 visual observations were reported. 6 different species were seen : the humpback whale, sperm whale, atlantic spotted dolphin, pantropical spotted dolphin, bottlenose dolphin and the very rare pygmy sperm whale. The presence of short-finned pilot whales was acoustically confirmed. The significant presence of sperm whales calls for additional scientific research in order to increase our knowledge about their backgrounds and their activities. The presence of Bryde’s whales and killer whales remains to be confirmed. These scientific missions confirm the faunal richness of our waters which endows us with the important responsibility of protecting these species.

An Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) © AAMP – AGOA – K. Questel
An Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) © AAMP – AGOA – K. Questel

Despite the bad weather conditions between December 10th and 15th 2013, the last marine mammal scientific monitoring program organized by the AGOA sanctuary resulted in the observation of coastal bottlenose dolphins on Saba bank, two groups of about thirty Atlantic spotted dolphins, many of them juveniles, northwest of Anguilla and southwest of Saint-Martin, and even a whale shark, completely harmless, south of Saint-Martin. Several acoustic observations of sperm whales and humpback whales were recorded using a hydrophone and are currently being processed, as well as a large number of photographs. The aim is to pick out identity connections between the marine mammals of the Îles du Nord and those seen in Guadeloupe and Martinique. The Marine Protected Area Agency in collaboration with CAR-SPAW charted two catamarans for this mission, the first covered the waters of Saint-Martin, Saint-Bart and Anguilla, and the second was used in the Saba, Saint Eustatius and Sint Maarten zone. The managers of the marine protected areas of these islands participated in the monitoring, as well as representatives of CAR-SPAW and two eco-volunteers from Saint- Martin, that the Reserve thanks for their involvement. This annual mission programmed in the wet season, was the second one in 2013, the first one took place in spring, the dry season. One of the goals of the sanctuary is to improve knowledge on marine mammals in order to strengthen their protection. Six objectives were followed : assessment of the diversity of species, assessment of the abundance of marine mammals, their geographical breakdown and eventual identification of their migration routes, the description of ecological parameters (water depth, distance from the coast…), the development of cooperation between the islands and finally to build the knowledge of the managers.

Carte - MapGroup Shot

L’association Megaptera participera à l’opération The association Megaptera will participate in the mission
L’association Megaptera participera à l’opération The association Megaptera will participate in the mission

MegapteraWhat migratory routes do the humpback whales take? Which waters do they frequent exactly? Do they cross paths with other humpback whales? As stated in the Management Plan, the Nature Reserve, that represents the AGOA Sanctuary in Saint-Martin, is anxious to provide answers to these questions in order to improve the management of the sanctuary. In collaboration with CAR-SPAW and the Saint-Bart Nature Reserve, a 10 day scientific mission baptized “Megara” has been programmed for the end of March 2014 in the waters of Saint-Martin and Nevis. The idea, a first in the Îles du Nord, is to implant Argos marine transmitters into the fatty tissue of several humpback whales in order to follow their journey via satellite and the web. The association Megatera, accustomed to this type of exercise, will be aboard the catamaran chartered for this mission, along with Michel Vély, chairman of Megaptera, several scientists and managers of marine protected areas in the region. The mission also plans to take skin samples of the humpback whales, and sperm whales as well. These samples will determine the sex and origin of each individual. They will be compared by Dr. Per J. Palsboll at the Dutch university of Groningen that has a database of over 8,500 samples collected from animals in the Northern Atlantic. An awareness campaign for scholars is programmed in partnership with Jean- Marie Jespère, the Academy Inspector of National Education in Saint-Martin, and the association «Mon école, ma baleine», Nelly Pélisson.

Éponges dans la mangrove Sponges in the mangroves © Julien Chalifour
Éponges dans la mangrove Sponges in the mangroves © Julien Chalifour

Scientists from around the world - Brazil, India, United Kingdom, United States…- met at Anses d’Arlet in Martinique, from December 1st to 8th, with the objective of exchanging and enriching their knowledge about sponges in the Caribbean. The sponge is an aquatic animal and there are roughly 5,000 known species in the world. Julien Chalifour attended the interventions given by the experts and participated in the dives to collect samples for processing. This workshop enabled the Head of the Scientific Division to collect samples in the Saint- Martin Nature Reserve and then have them sent off to the specialists. The results will further enrich the inventory which presently lists 818 species that were recorded after the scientific research program carried out in 2012 in the Reserve waters. Identification des espèces Identification of species © Julien Chalifour

Les caméras utilisées par la mission Catlin The cameras used by Catlin survey
Les caméras utilisées par la mission Catlin The cameras used by Catlin survey

In early December, Nicolas Maslach gave the go ahead to the Australian mission, Catlin Seaview Survey, and very soon we will be able to watch detailed films on the internet of the reefs at Tintamarre and Grandes Cayes. The project was conducted by a team of Australian scientists with three cameras taking 360° photos at high resolution. Developed by the Australian researchers, this technique helps to improve seabed monitoring, as well as cartography. Falling within the framework of the battle against the degradation of coral, the objective of Catlin is to monitor the condition of the coral reefs as closely as possible and to provide the specialists with the most accurate information possible. This international mission began in the Pacific and is now in the Caribbean. The videos will be available soon on www.globalreefrecord.org

Premières photos du scinque à Tintamare First pictures of the skink on Tintamare © Julien Chalifour
Premières photos du scinque à Tintamare First pictures of the skink on Tintamare © Julien Chalifour

Spotted on Tintamare in March 2013 during the rodent eradication on the island, the skink is a small and very rare lizard, endemic to the islands of Désirade and Petite Terre and thought to have disappeared from Saint-Martin. Photographs taken prove its existence in the dry stonewalls on Tintamare, and this discovery could become one of the major areas of focus in the Reserve’s next Management Plan. A scientific monitoring program will be financed by the State through DEAL Guadeloupe and conducted by the association AEVA, specialist of this reptile, in collaboration with the Reserve. The aim will be to assess the population of these small lizards and define their location. It will be necessary to capture roughly a dozen in order to come out with 5 skink DNA samples. Unfortunately, one individual will be sacrificed, but for a good cause as it will be sent to the Museum of Natural History.Premières photos du scinque à Tintamare First pictures of the skink on Tintamare © Julien Chalifour

Halophilia stipulacea © Julien Chalifour
Halophilia stipulacea © Julien Chalifour

A new species is slowly invading the sea grass beds and the Reserve is concerned about the consequences of this silent invasion. Introduced via boat anchors, Halophilia stipulacea, is pushing its way in over Syringodium and Thalassia. In Guadeloupe and the Saintes, this new species has taken over almost completely, but this invasion is not necessarily negative. Halophilia stipulacea is apparently very popular with the fish that digest it easily and it could also stabilize sediment. A research mission has been launched, and will be conducted over six months by an intern doing his 2nd year Masters at the University of Corte, in Corsica. Starting from the end of February, the student will work on mapping out the relevant sites and defining the extent of the phenomenon. He will endeavor to come up with monitoring methods to find out if Halophilia spreads or regresses, and which animals consume it.

La maquette du récif artificiel | Design of the artificial reef © Julien Chalifour
La maquette du récif artificiel | Design of the artificial reef © Julien Chalifour

Marine animal larvae are easy prey for predators and increasing their survival rate is a good way to increase ecological heritage. With this goal in mind, the Reserve is going to install an artificial reef in a reef free zone. Consisting of breeze blocks, covered in tiny crevices that are ideal for the installation of larvae, this reef will become a chosen habitat for thousands of future fish and shellfish that will be able to survive. The mission, financed by Te- MeUm, will be handed over to an intern doing his 2nd year Masters at the University of La Rochelle, from mid-April until mid-June 2014.

Managing The Impact Of Human Activities In Protected Areas

Poisson-lion | Lion fish © Julien Chalifour
Poisson-lion | Lion fish © Julien Chalifour

In 2013, the guards caught 57 lion fish in the Nature Reserve waters, cut them in half and left them where they were discovered. The aim was to get other fish to start enjoying the taste of their flesh, and eventually become their predators. The tests to determine if their flesh is contaminated by ciguatera toxins continue, the initial results have shown that certain fish were infected, and others weren’t, depending on their origin. The guards, as well as two professional fishermen, continue to collect specimens at different depths and sites. These specimens will be studied by the Institut Pasteur, which will then allow us to determine precisely at which sites the lion fish are edible and at which sites they are not.Les gardes chassant le poisson-lion |The guards hunting lion fish © Julien Chalifour

Gaïa transpercée par une flèche | Gaïa shot by the arrow of a spear gun
Gaïa transpercée par une flèche | Gaïa shot by the arrow of a spear gun

On August 25th, the Green Turtle, Gaïa, that had been shot with a spear gun, the arrow entering at lung level, was lucky enough to cross paths with Julien Chalifour, Head of the Scientific Division at the Reserve, who was out on the water that day, just off Orient Bay. Veterinarian Claire Saladin examined Gaïa and realized she was in immediate need of being operated on to remove the arrow. Due to the lack of equipment in Saint- Martin, the turtle was evacuated by plane to Guadeloupe where the ONCFS took charge of her at the marine turtle health center. Operated on by Dr. Leveque, Gaïa was kept in a recovery pool for two weeks before being released back into her natural environment from Malendure Beach in Guadeloupe, on September 18th.Gaïa relâchée sur la plage de Malendure, en Guadeloupe | Gaïa, released in Guadeloupe

The destruction of marine turtles is a crime severely punished.

But poachers continue none-the-less, as Gaïa’s wounds would attest, as would the turtle plastron (under shell) found by the Reserve outside the Reserve boundaries, and the turtle remains discovered by the gendarmerie in a private residence on October 18th (see the section below : “Police actions”).

 

Sea Turtles 2013 season report

Thanks to the 58 eco-volunteers, 831 patrols were able to be conducted on 13 of the island’s beaches, and 277 tracks of turtles crawling up the beach were registered. 71% of these tracks led to a nest, representing 197 clutches.

 

Les ruines à Babit Point... | The ruin on Babit Point...© Béatrice Galdi

The first steps have been taken towards the destruction of the ruins of a house on Babit Point and the old hotel in Galion; an asbestos survey was launched in November by the Conservatoire du Littoral. This preliminary diagnosis is obligatory before demolition of any building constructed before 1997. And if there is any asbestos present, a site cleanup will be obligatory so that this dangerous contaminant cannot spread through the air and the waste that is removed can be placed in an approved site. The Babit Point ruin dates from the 60s and is built on a plot of land that the Conservatoire acquired in April 2013. As soon as the results of the samples, currently being analyzed in a laboratory, are through, the Conservatoire will launch a tender for the demolition of this house that is ruining the landscape. Following the demolition, long-awaited by the residents, a restoration program of the landscape and minerals will be implemented. Concerning the ruins at Galion, dating from the 80s, the Conservatoire unfortunately has to await the outcome of the expropriation proceedings that are pending, before going forward with the destruction. These ruins are located on the edge of one of the most popular beaches on the island, on a site that not only natural but also very ecologically rich.Ruines au Galion | Galion Ruins © Béatrice Galdi

Toilettes sèches à Pinel | Dry toilets on Pinel © Béatrice Galdi
Toilettes sèches à Pinel | Dry toilets on Pinel © Béatrice Galdi

When a site that belongs to the Conservatoire du Littoral is open to the public, consideration needs to be taken to address the visitors’ toiletry needs, and thereby the installation of ecological toilets. The decision was taken to install two dry toilets on the island of Pinel, financed with the help of Europe and the State, and considered a good ecological solution in an isolated area that is not linked up to the public sewage network. Their maintenance was entrusted to the two restaurant owners who hold temporary occupation permits. These permits were issued by the Conservatoire, in the context of good environmental practices that they are committed to respect. Today, the toilets are still in the experimental phase, and are not entirely satisfactory with regards to their capacity in full tourist season, and the old, more “classic” toilets, are still being used. There are on average 500 visitors going to Pinel every day, and if the capacity of these facilities proves to be insufficient, the Reserve is well aware that they will need to find another solution.

Paysage à Babit Point | Babit Point landscape © Béatrice Galdi
Paysage à Babit Point | Babit Point landscape © Béatrice Galdi

A nature trail at Babit Point

As soon as the house ruins have been removed from the site, it is planned to build a nature trail with information signs along it. They will highlight the value of the Melocactus and other floral species, as well as the landscape aspects of the site; its rocky chaos and opening towards the Atlantic Ocean and the island of Saint Barthelemy.

An excellent project for the mouth of the Etang aux Poissons

The site cleaned up

Après la dépolluAfter cleaning up the site of a former sand quarry at the mouth of the Etang aux Poissons, the Conservatoire hopes to achieve an ambitious project of ecological restoration and public reception on the site. This project has, up until now, been delayed, due to a lack of co-financing. The Conservatoire hopes that in 2014 with the help of the State and Europe, it will be able to start this work.

Egret-watching

Les aigrettes apprécient l’étang du cimetière | The egrets enjoying the Etang du Cimetière

The Etang du Cimetière in Grand-Case is an important nesting location for egrets, and is going to be equipped with a bird watching hide that will allow the public to observe these beautiful birds in full discretion.

A Fitness Trail

The salt pond in Friar’s Bay

The Neighbourhood Council No. 3 approached the Conservatoire about building a fitness trail around the Etang Guichard, just near to Friar’s Bay Beach, and the Conservatoire is ready to finance the work. However, as it owns the water but not the banks, the Conservatoire will need the authorization of the owners for the right of way.

The protection and revegetation of Grandes Cayes

As the beach of Grandes Cayes is located alongside the road leading to the ecosite for waste treatment, it is unfortunately often used as a dumping ground. The public using this site also tend to park as close to the beach as possible, which prevents natural backshore vegetation from growing. In order to curb these intrusive actions, the Conservatoire intends to begin vegetal restoration of the site, and to place several blocks in key positions to limit vehicle access and stop the far too frequent dumping (for which another perpetrator was fined by the Nature Reserve in December).

La plage de Grandes Cayes... | Grandes Cayes Beach...La plage de Grandes Cayes... | Grandes Cayes Beach...

 

Du matériel de guerre trouvé dans l’étang Rouge | War material found in the Etang Rouge
Du matériel de guerre trouvé dans l’étang Rouge | War material found in the Etang Rouge

On September 11th

During scientific monitoring of birds around the salt ponds , the team came across a large amount of munitions of all kinds thrown into the shallows of the Etang Rouge. A few weeks later, on October 31st, the Reserve guards discovered a 357 Magnum pistol and an anti-personnel mine detonator, still in working condition, also in the Etang Rouge. These weapons were recovered with the assistance of the Investigation Brigade from the gendarmerie and a destruction certificate was signed.

.Le pistolet 357 Magnum | The 357 Magnum pistol

On September 18th

Les poissons ont été saisis | The fish were seized

Following an article published in the Faxinfo stating that a 25kg snook was caught in the Etang aux Poissons, the guards found the fisherman and an official statement was drawn up against him.

On September 21st

Whilst the Radisson «Beach Clean Up» was in full swing, the guards spotted two underwater hunters. After being summoned, the two men showed up at the Reserve offices. Their fish and fishing equipment were confiscated.

On October 7th

Pêche illégale à Coralita | Illegal fishing at Coralita

Thanks to a witness phoning in, the guards apprehended two anglers on the Coralita beach. Their fish and fishing rods were confiscated.

On October 18th

Viande de tortue trouvée chez un particulier | Turtle meat found in a private residence

The gendarmerie informed the Nature Reserve that two turtle shells and turtle meat had been found in a private residence during a search operation. Seizure of these shells and the meat by the guards resulted in a formal report of destruction

On November 14th

254 lambis ont été remis à l’eau | 254 conches were returned to sea © Steeve Ruillet

Thanks to the testimony given by a local resident, 254 live conches were able to be put back in the sea not far from Petite Clé and Pinel. The fisherman was tried in the criminal court on December 2013 and sentenced to a 100 day fine of 20 euros. If he doesn’t pay his fines, the fisherman will be imprisoned for 100 days. He caught these 254 conches, as well as red helmet and two lobsters, around the islands of Pinel and Petite Clé, right in the middle of the Reserve. The guards tracked the suspect over several days before being able to arrest him with the help of the Nautical Brigade from the gendarmerie. Given the magnitude of his illegal activity, the guards estimate that he hauled

Ce pêcheur a été jugé par le tribunal correctionnel | This fisherman was tried by the criminal court

 

Restoration Of Degraded Areas And Populations

Pollution récurrente sur le Grand étang Recurrent pollution in the Grand Etang © Christophe Joe
Pollution récurrente sur le Grand étang Recurrent pollution in the Grand Etang © Christophe Joe

In November 2013, there was once again a situation involving pollution at the Grand Etang, and once again, it was in the same spot on the road where La Samanna Hotel faces the salt pond. Local residents notified the Reserve and the Conservatoire of the profuse amount of untreated sewage pollution that was overflowing onto the road, instead of pouring into the public sewer system. A flushing was conducted and has stopped the problem on a short-term basis, but more substantial work to upgrade the system is vital. On two occasions, in February 2012 and February 2013, the Saint-Martin Water and Sanitation Division (EEASM) presented the hotel with formal notices to proceed with the upgrading of their system; both were unsuccessful in getting any results. The work required consists of installing a waste water pretreatment unit, as the hotel’s waste water contains fibers from the laundry service and fat from the restaurant, which are both perfect for clogging a drainage system and causing this recurrent overflowing. The Nature Reserve, on its side, has drawn up two official statements against the hotel, both in 2009 and in 2013. Several meetings with all the key players have also failed to put an end to this ongoing situation, to the detriment of the salt pond and also the health and safety of the public. The local residents, who are deeply involved in this affair, deplore this pollution that is dragging on. Let us remember that the 14 salt ponds, protected by the Conservatoire du Littoral, managed by the Nature Reserve since 2007, have been designated Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.

Etang Guichard’s story…

The Grand Etang is not the only one to have recurrent cases of pollution. In Friar’s Bay, the Etang Guichard was privy to another episode of pollution at the beginning of December, originating from the private sewage treatment plant of the residence «palmeraie baie», located on its banks. This facility has experienced repetitive failures that pollute the environment, despite several formal notices from the Conservatoire du Littoral and a report from the Nature Reserve. The Reserve is appealing to anyone who witnesses such form of pollution on the salt ponds to call them immediately on 05 90 29 09 72.

 

Anti-theft anchorages at Pinel
Anti-theft anchorages at Pinel

n order to avoid the recurrent theft of the mooring buoys around Pinel, the Nature Reserve rangers have replaced the rope that runs from the anchor to the buoy with 12mm chain. In addition, three mooring buoys at Rocher Créole and four at Tintamare have been temporarily removed, as the shackles that are chemically sealed to the mooring are in need of underwater securing.

Environmental Communication And Education

Le sentier de découverte à l’étang de la Barrière | The nature trail on the Etang de la Barrière
Le sentier de découverte à l’étang de la Barrière | The nature trail on the Etang de la Barrière

Caribbean recognition for the mangrove trail

The nature trail leading to the discovery of the mangroves and birdlife on the Etang de la Barrière that was built in 2012-2013 by the Conservatoire du Littoral has been included on the “Caribbean Birding Trail” list. This is an initiative to classify the best bird watching spots in the Caribbean. For bird watching fans, this recognition places our little island of Saint-Martin on a par with destinations such as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Cuba. This is a cornerstone development for ecotourism in Saint-Martin, where the fourteen salt ponds, protected by the Conservatoire, host remarkable birdlife. Last September a Migratory Bird Festival was held at the Etang de la Barrière on the International Migratory Bird Day. This event was organized under the initiative of the association “Les Fruits de Mer” and over 200 people attended.

The Mont des Accords Convention

As part of the Environmental Education Mission, the Nature Reserve signed a partnership agreement with the Collège Mont des Accords, as it previously did with the two other collèges on the island. This convention applies particularly to the students in the insertion program, whom the Reserve will meet on the educational outings into the field.

The Reserve gets involved in teaching tourism

The framework agreement signed in June 2013 between the Collectivité, National Education and the Tourist Office to include tourism in the subjects taught in the Saint-Martin high schools also concerns the Nature Reserve. It will join in the work to teach the students more about their natural heritage. As part of this agreement the students will be taught about the presence of marine mammals in our region.

AGOA and the Reserve attend the Science Fair

The Reserve participated in the Science Fair which was held from November 25th to 29th at the Lycée. They held an exhibition devoted to the AGOA Sanctuary and to the scientific inventory program of molluscs, echinoderms and crustaceans, conducted in 2012.

La Réunion
La Réunion

Saint-Martin is honored in Reunion

The press in Reunion mentioned the Saint-Martin Nature Reserve and its good practices when Nicolas Maslach attended the International Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development, and Franck Roncuzzi’s formation of a companionship with the Reunion Marine Reserve.

The Reserve featured in Discover...

In order to enhance the quality of the work of its commercially operating partners, and also to inform the tourists who come from the world over, the Reserve

... And in the Turquoise

s is the case every year, the Turquoise guidebook, published for the association of maritime professionals, Métimer, dedicates over twenty pages to the Nature Reserve and the AGOA Sanctuary. There are 40,000 printed copies, and it is available at marinas on the island and in hotels

 

La Réunion
La Réunion
Discover 2014
Discover 2014
Discover 2014
Discover 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014

Better Means For Better Missions

Daniel Lewis
Daniel Lewis

On November 12th, the three Nature Reserve rangers welcomed a new recruit onto their team. Daniel Lewis was employed from the “contrats avenir” program; his application attracted the attention of all the staff at the Reserve. Currently undergoing training and discovery, the new guard is participating in all the sea and land patrols, as well as other jobs such as the maintenance of the anchorages. Extremely motivated by the protection of the environment of his island, he is fully integrated

Signature of the convention between the COM and the Nature Reserve
Signature of the convention between the COM and the Nature Reserve

The floating pool that was originally installed in the Grand-Case Bay was moved in October to the Embouchure Bay (Galion beach), which is part of the Nature Reserve, and has ended in a partnership agreement being drawn up between the Collectivité and the Reserve. The idea is for the Collectivité to have a suitable place for the school swimming activities to be held, and for the Reserve to receive a grant for three years. The Executive Council deliberated over this on September 24th 2013, and has since signed a convention to allocate 150,000 euros to the Nature Reserve spread over three fiscal years, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The Reserve is moving premises

Due to the new recruits, the Reserve is moving premises, not very far from its former address in Anse Marcel, into a more spacious workspace that is more accessible to the public.

Reinforcement On A Regional

Free the whales from driftnets | Exercises at sea
Free the whales from driftnets | Exercises at sea

Established in 2010 within the exclusive economic zone of the French Antilles, the AGOA Sanctuary is dedicated to the protection of marine mammals. Thanks the financial and technical support of the Agence des Aires Marines Protégées (AAMP), the sanctuary works particularly in developing cooperation through a matching policy with existing, or future, sanctuaries in the region, and by setting up international awareness campaigns about marine mammal and their habitats. On September 10th 2013, the Saint-Martin Nature Reserve signed an agreement with the AAMP. This convention enables the Reserve to represent the sanctuary when dealing with the authorities, to participate in the implementation of the management actions recommended by the AAMP, to contribute to the organization of scientific research programs at sea, to maintain relations with the marine environment players and finally to organize regular events around the sanctuary. AGOA represented by the Saint-Martin Nature Reserve

The MPA managers at Porquerolles

Free the whales from driftnets

From November 12th to 14th, in collaboration with the Reserve, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and CAR-SPAW invited fifteen Caribbean countries to Saint-Martin to discuss the conservation of marine mammals. The main cause of mortality in marine mammals is them becoming entangled in fishing gear or drifting ropes. A large part of the workshop was devoted to the most effective intervention techniques to release the animals. This phenomenon has become so widespread that an IWC expert travels the world to inform the concerned persons the techniques to use, both by way of a video presentation, and also exercises done at sea. In Saint-Martin four boats, including that of the SNSM, participated in the workshop that explained to the participants how to approach the animal and also the risks involved in the disentanglement techniques. The entire team from the Saint-Martin Nature Reserve was taught these techniques, as well as the SNSM crew. The Reserve is now equipped with a kit, financed by CAR-SPAW and contains grapples, poles equipped with knives, safety helmets and lifejackets. A “Rescue Team” involving managers of the marine protected areas in the region was established in order to respond quickly to any such situations in our waters.

The Caribbean threatened by rising water levels

Twelve Caribbean countries participated in a workshop on climate change that was held on November 28th and 29th at the Hotel Mercure. It was organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and CAR-SPAW, in partnership with the Reserve. The experts presented the impact of climate change on the small island territories of the Caribbean. The most optimistic announced a one meter rise in the sea level, which corresponds to an average 150m of coastal erosion along the entire Caribbean coastline. This loss of land would be accompanied by population displacement and would have a major impact on the hotel industry. The experts and managers present all emphasized the importance of preserving the coastal ecosystems and coastlines in order to effectively fight against the rising water level. Two local elected officials, René-Jean Duret and Jean- Philippe Richardson, were made aware of this threat, and were advised to take this into account when drawing up the Local Urbanization Plan that is currently under development.

 

IMPAC 3 took place in Marseille this year
IMPAC 3 took place in Marseille this year

Nicolas Maslach, Julien Chalifour, Romain Renoux and Franck Roncuzzi attended the IMPAC 3 that took place in France for the very first time from October 21st to 26th, at the magnificent site of the Palais du Pharo in Marseille. Every four years, this is the traditional “rendez-vous” of all managers of marine protected areas from around the world, who are able to exchange and participate in dozens of specialized workshops. IMPAC 3 is the opportunity for our country to highlight the conservation policy France implements with its marine environments and the various existing tools, which includes the Saint- Martin Nature Reserve.

View of the International Conference on Sustainable Development of Tourism in Islands
View of the International Conference on Sustainable Development of Tourism in Islands

The Saint-Martin Nature Reserve hosted the Director of the National Marine Reserve of Reunion as well as the reserve’s Head of Surveillance and Police Unit in June 2013. Nicolas Maslach and Franck Roncuzzi reciprocated this visit by going to Reunion in September as part of the program to exchange good practices between natural protected areas. Franck Roncuzzi took advantage of this to form a companionship with the Marine Reserve in Reunion with regards to the policing aspects of nature and mooring techniques. Invited by the Reunion region and the Minister of Economy, Nicolas Maslach attended the International Conference on Sustainable Development of Tourism in Islands, set up by the World Tourism Organization and the French government. The conservationist presented “his” reserve, as well as a presentation on the effects climate change is having on the island habitats. Amongst the audience present were numerous ministers and tourist managers who came from the world over.

Romain Renoux participated in the scientific monitoring program in Martinique
Romain Renoux participated in the scientific monitoring program in Martinique

The Reserve follows the whales in Martinique The Saint-Martin Nature Reserve participated in a scientific marine mammal monitoring program from October 1st to 8th, in the coastal waters of Martinique. This mission, organized by the AAMP and CAR-SPAW in the AGOA Sanctuary, permitted numerous visual and acoustic observations of many different species of these large mammals. One to note was the observation of a Gervais’ beaked whale, a rare species, in the Saint Lucia channel. These programs improve our knowledge on the diversity of the marine mammals around our islands, as well as their geographical breakdown, which in turn helps us to improve their protection. These missions also help to train the managers of marine protected areas to understand and protect these species better.

Julien Chalifour at the GCFI conference, in front of the poster featuring the 818 species in Saint-Martin
Julien Chalifour at the GCFI conference, in front of the poster featuring the 818 species in Saint-Martin

The 66th annual «Golf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute» (GCFI) conference took place in Corpus Christi, Texas, from November 4th to 8th. Romain Renoux and Julien Chalifour met with the other managers of marine protected areas from the Caribbean and submitted their inventory conducted in April 2012. The scientific research resulted in the identification of 818 species of crustaceans, echinoderms and molluscs in the Reserve waters. This presentation was in keeping with the request made by the Advisory Committee in April 2013 for the Reserve to ensure the diffusion of its results to the managers of the marine protected areas (AMP) throughout the Caribbean, in order to highlight the extraordinary biodiversity of Saint-Martin on a regional level. The disturbing invasion of the lion fish has been the subject of several interventions and a mentoring program has been decided upon by the managers of the AMP.

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