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Nature Foundation Joins Coast Guard for Joint Patrolling of Marine Park, Other Areas

MARINE PARK - In an effort to increase the law enforcement presence in the Man of War Shoal Marine Park and other areas to combat illegal poaching and fishing, the St. Maarten Nature Foundation and the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard have been conducting joint patrols. The patrols check for infringements on the fishing ban in the Marine Park, the ban on the intentional fishing on sharks and rays in territorial waters and other illegal activities such as marine pollution or the poaching of endangered species such as sea turtles.

“It is listed within the rules of the Marine Park that no fishing is allowed, including trap fishing, fishing for lobster, spear fishing, fishing with line what have you. We have a close working relationship with fishermen when it comes to the Man of War Shoal Marine Park and would like this to continue. However if we notice illegal activities within the Marine Park this will be addressed, including the removal of fish traps and issuing fines for poaching in restricted fishing areas. Fishing, the removal of organisms alive or dead, the removal of shells or corals and anchoring is strictly prohibited within the Boundaries of the Man of War Shoal Marine Park.,” read a Nature Foundation statement.  

The boundaries of the Marine Park are between 18̊ ̊N and 17 ̊-57.0 N and 63 ̊-01.03 W and 63 ̊-04.05 W, in an area better known as “the Proselyte Reef Complex ".  This area includes the island’s most ecologically and economical important marine habitat, including extensive coral reef areas and seagrass beds.

The Man of War Shoal Marine Park, officially established on the 30th of December 2010, is a home and migratory stop over or breeding site for 3 IUCN Red List Species, 10 CITES Appendix I species and 89 Appendix II species. It is an area with a relatively healthy population of marine mammals including migratory whales and dolphins, numerous species of shark, sea turtles and numerous fish species.Studies conducted by the St. Maarten Nature Foundation have shown that biodiversity in this area, particularly coral reef density, is high and the economic goods and services which the ecosystem provides are in excess of fifty million dollars annually.”

It has been shown that no-fishing areas have resulted in an increase in fish stock. Therefore it is also in the interest of fishermen to adhere to the no catch rules of the Marine Park,” continued the Foundation.

Patrols conducted jointly with the Coast Guard and using the Marine Park Patrol Vessel will continue indefinitely. The Nature Foundation and the Coast Guard also responded to a call of lobster poaching in the Marine Park.

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Phenomenal Women Political Debate on Wednesday, August 20

PHILIPSBURG – With the date of St. Maarten’s parliamentary elections drawing near, several female candidates contesting the elections will be engaged in the Phenomenal Women Political Debate on August 20, 2014. This major event, presented by the University of St. Martin (USM) in collaboration with the “Woman 2 Woman, Phenomenal Women” radio program, will be held at the University of St. Martin lecture hall from 6:00pm - 9:00 pm, and promises to be a night filled with lively discussions from the female perspective.

To ensure the objectivity of this Debate, two phenomenal women were invited to participate as moderators. This includes former Prime Minister of the Netherlands Antilles, Maria Liberia Peters, along with Alida Francis, Acting Head/ Senior Communication Advisor of the Central Government in the Caribbean Netherlands including Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (BES).

 “Through my involvement in this event, I strive to strengthen a sense of self-confidence among these female candidates, as we work together to maintain equilibrium and invest in building consensus,” says Maria Liberia-Peters.

Maria worked as a Teacher, Supervisor of Early Childhood and Teacher at the Teacher’s College.Sparked by International Women’s Year (1975), proclaimed by The United Nations, under the theme “Equality, Development and Peace”, she started her political careeras a candidate contesting for the Legislative Council. She was elected as such and soon after was appointed as the first woman to be in the Local Executive Government of Curacao. Besides being also elected as Member of Parliament on various occasions, Maria was also the first woman to become Acting Lieutenant Governor with jurisdiction over Public Order, Immigration and Police Force.  She was called to fulfill the highest political post as Prime Minister of the Central Government of The Netherlands Antilles. (1984-1985, 1988-1993).

During her period as Prime Minister she worked to build bridges between governments and people of the English and Spanish speaking Caribbean and the Dutch speaking Caribbean.During the period 1991-1994, she chaired the Board of Presiding Officers of the Standing Regional Conference for the Integration of Women in the development of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Maria was honored by the Queen of The Kingdom of the Netherlands with the Honor of “Grootofficier in de Orde van Oranje Nassau”, Gran Cruz del Orden de Boyaca” (Colombia), “Gran Cordon en el Orden del Libertador” (Venezuela), “Sol de Carabobo PrimeraClase” (Valencia –Venezuela)” and Proclamation of December 1st 1989 as “Prime Minister Maria Philomina, Day by Fulton County, Atlanta Georgia, U.S.A.) As a Roman Catholic Political Leader Maria was received in audience at various occasions by the late Pope John Paul Second.

Alongside Maria, Alida Francis will serve as co-moderator. Alida Francis is the Acting Head/ Senior Communication Advisor of the Central Government in the Caribbean Netherlands including Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (BES). In this capacity Alida is responsible for planning and implementing all communication strategies for the BES islands.  Alida has also served as Director of the St. Eustatius Tourism Development Foundation (STDF) since 1992 -2010;Protocol Officer for theBureau of Protocol, Island Government of St. Maarten, Philipsburg, St. Maarten 1990 1992, Broadcast Journalist for theFoundation Broadcasting Network (FBN), Philipsburg, St. Maarten 1989 - 1990., and Broadcast Journalist for the TheVoice of St. Maarten, PJD-2 Radio, Philipsburg, St. Maarten 1989. Producer, Reporter, news writer, news anchor of nightly news programme, Newsline 13; co-producer/host of "Weekend Magazine" a 30-minute social, cultural and educational programme. Co-host "People's Voice" weekly live call in programme aired Sunday's and hosted by popular radio personality, Mr. Lloyd Richardson. Host of Weekend Magazine a weekly radio programme covering special interests topics.

“The Debate provides the opportunity to continually examine current state of affairs, listen, observe, and communicate openly,” shares Francis.

Jointly these dynamic women will co-host the Phenomenal Women Political Debate in a manner that upholds the strong principles of objectivity, respect and professional courtesy focused on the prevalent local issues and proposed solutions.The topics of discussion include Education, Social Welfare, Elderly, Health, Pension, Labour, (Un)Employment, Jobs, Minimum Wage, Youth, Sports, Security & Safety, Crime, Governance,Legislation and Economic Development to include Tourism, Entrepreneurship, and other topics of discussion.

This exclusive event will consist of ten female debate panelists, two from each political party contesting St. Maarten’s 2014 Parliamentary Elections. The candidates chosen by their respective political parties and confirmed to participate are:

  • Richelda Rodriquez Emmanuel and Mulrose Toulon(Democratic Party)
  • Silveria Jacobs and  Dorothy Richardson (National Alliance)
  • Regina Janga and Marie-Lou Connor  (One St. Maarten People Party)
  • GracitaArrindell and Ingrid Arrindell (United People Party)
  • Lisa Alexander and  Myrna Richardson (United St. Maarten Party)

These participants all attended a candidates’ pre-briefing meeting on Thursday to discuss the overall organization of the Debate, as well as the rules of engagement. They expressed their excitement and commendations for this event to provide women with the opportunity to share their vision for St. Maarten.   

The general public, female and/or male, is invited to come participate in the Phenomenal Women Political Debate event at no cost. It will also be presented online by live streaming, by television through AVS news, and radio broadcast on SOS Radio 95.9FM.

Sponsors of the Phenomenal Women Political Debate include Telem Group of Companies, B&C Beverages, Holland House Hotel, Maduro Travel, and SOS Radio 95.9FM.

For ongoing updates on the ‘Phenomenal Women Political Debate”, tune in to SOS 95.9FM every Sunday from 12:30-1:30PM.

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House near Ebenezer destroyed by fire

EBENEZER - On Friday August 15th at approximately 02.55 p.m. police patrols, fire department and ambulance were directed to L.B. Scot road in the vicinity of Ebenezer where it was reported that a house was on fire.

On the arrival of the emergency services they noticed that an entire house located on that housing complex was on fire. The fire department immediately went to work to put the fire out and within short the fire was brought under control.

No one was at home during the time of the fire and no one was injured.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined and the owner and children of that home will be taken care of by family members. (Contributed by the Police Force of Sint Maarten)

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SXM Airport Signs Agreement with St. Maarten Wrapping Company

SIMPSON BAY - Baggage wrapping services at the Princess Juliana International Airport, SXM, has now become operational following an agreement signed recently between SXM and a local company, St. Maarten Wrapping Services.

Under the agreement,St. Maarten Wrapping Services will operate one mobile unit in the check-in area of the terminal building to provide the mentioned service to SXM passengers. The unit is open daily during the general business hours of the airport.

Cleon Frederick, Owner ofSt. Maarten Wrapping Service, said he was happy for the opportunity to render this service at the airport.

“I am very pleased about winning the contract for this particular service,” he said. “This service is widely used throughout major airports in Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa and I’m now pleased to say ‘also in St. Maarten’.”

 

Frederick disclosed that for now, he will employ two to three people to deliver this service which he said “provides protection against items being inserted in the luggage, theft from luggage, accidental opening, handling and/or rain damage.”

 

“Clients can expect professionalism, customer friendliness and the same overall quality of service that SXM Airport provides to all their clients,” Frederick said, adding that in keeping with international wrapping standards, the service will cost a traveler “on average $15 per bag.”

“Based on research on this type of service, I truly believe it will be an asset and beneficial to SXM Airport, their visitors and residents alike,” he added.

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Department of Labour Affairs Starts Manual Intake of Employment Permits due to ICT Challenges

GREAT BAY - Due to the continued ICT challenges being experienced at the Department of Labor Affairs, the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour engaged in a re-writing of procedures in order to facilitate the manual intake of Employment Permits. As was stated before, the processing of Employment permits is anchored in an Ordinance with strict legislative requirements, checks and balances.

Effective Monday, August 18, 2014, the Department of Labour Affairs will commence with the manual intake of Employment Permit applications, but ONLY those permits up for renewal. Additionally, Vacancy Registrations, Unemployment registrations, and Labor Registrations will be services offered, and rendered by the Department manually.  At this time, no first time employment permit applications will be accepted, again due to the legislative restrictions.

The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour apologizes for the inconvenience this has caused to its valuable customers, although one out of its immediate control. We implore the customers for some additional patience as the process is a manual one.

Office hours for the Department of Labor Affairs will therefore revert back to normal public hours, being 8.30 am – 3.30 pm. 

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Minister Lake Releases Vorst Cay Hill Property Vision for Public Housing and Job Creation Center

CAY HILL - Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake says in order for the country to move forward, one has to have a vision.

On Wednesday Minister Lake released an illustration of his vision for the Vorst property in Cay Hill.  It includes public housing for young professionals who are studying abroad and would like to return home to work; and a commercial job creation center that would create jobs for the unemployed and those seeking work.

The commercial center includes a sewing center that could create 100+ jobs. The Minister’s vision entails persons sewing school uniforms, prison uniforms, hotels and many other businesses that require a uniform.  A call center that could create another 100+ jobs is also envisioned for the commercial center where persons won’t have to speak to somebody in Trinidad or India or anywhere else in the world, Minister Lake explained; a mechanical shop to make traffic signs, license plates and other signage.

The public housing part would comprise of two and three bedroom units in a three to four level building for a total of 85 units.

“We have to think ahead and meet the needs of the people.  I have been in the various districts and the people that I have met know friends who are out of work and needs a job.  With some training, these people can be put to work.  Why order traffic signs and license plates from abroad when we could have them manufactured here.  It will mean some form of investment being made, but where there is a will there is a way.

“A business plan would be needed that would look at other business opportunities, but it’s a start and it’s putting people to work. Several banks and other entities on the island use call centers, why not a call center here on the island?

“We need to get away from the egos and start thinking and working towards country Sint Maarten.  The people want real solutions because they have real issues and during my tenure as minister I have been addressing their issues,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake said on Wednesday.

Minister Lake added that its campaign season now and the various political parties will say anything to win.  “You can play politics, but the people want tangible solutions to their needs and I am working to provide the tangible results.  My record for the past 12-months speaks for itself.

Minister Lake added that it is better to purchase the Vorst property than lease it.  “There are public housing tenants in Cole Bay living on private leased land, and now after 17-years these people have to move because the landowner is no longer interested in leasing the property.  The Vorst property is already zoned as mix-use and by purchasing the property for the people it is an investment.  There are a binding Letter of Intent and binding clauses, as well as the advice from the Minister of Finance with respect to the budget, so we should move forward and lets provide housing for the people in need and jobs for the people who are out there crying for work,” Minister Lake concluded.

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Minister De Weever Clarifies Budget 2015

GREAT BAY - Minster of Public Health Social Development & Labor, Cornelius De Weever would like to clarify why his ministry has not been able to comply with the budget demands as stated by the CFT in an article of the TODAY newspaper of Tuesday, August 12, 2014. At this point any budgetary amendments from his ministry is near impossible, as the ministry has reached a bare minimum and any additional cuts would not enable the ministry to execute the legislative tasks it is tasked with.

“In order to pass the 2014 Budget, the private sector now pays its own fair share of health care premiums which provides medical insurance to their clients and family members for such a low price.” said Minister De Weever.

Minister De Weever also indicated a request to amend the budget as it pertains to the health care expenses of civil servants; to transfer said costs from the budget of Public Health, Social Development & Labor to the budget of General Affairs or allocated to the personnel budget of each respective Ministry by means of an allocation key.

Minister De Weever further stated that the budget of his ministry in particular is pegged to a year plan including key performance indicators, and also to an end of year report that accounts for every penny spent. I believe all other ministries that function without a year plan should reform and provide more accountability. In addition, the Ministry is finalizing a National Strategic Plan 2014-2017 with a multi annual operational plan and budget, which will limit the absorption of any sudden or unexpected reductions and ensure continuity within the ministry.

“I would like to point out that the Ministry of Public Health Social Development & Labor, submitted a budget close to the financial parameters as outlined by the Ministry of Finance for the preparation of the 2015 budget. Any additional budget cuts placed on my Ministry, while other ministries expand their costs does not reflect the importance of introducing cost cutting and efficiency enhancing measures to meet the capped country budget,” said Minister De Weever.

Minister De Weever cannot emphasize enough that with no signs of a robust economic recovery in sight, the need for a sufficiently funded social safety net and supporting social programs remain imperative and any further decrease in the budget can be considered detrimental.

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Lion's petition Government for Support in its Program Against Abuse of Alcohol & Drugs by the Youth

PHILIPSBURG - On August 12th the St. Maarten Lions Club visited the Government Administration Building where they presented an open Letter to the Government. The letter which is addressed to the Prime Minister, the honorable Mrs. Sarah Wescot-Williams, pleads that the government supports the Club’s awareness campaign against the Use and Abuse of Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco amongst the Youth of St. Maarten.

The signature project of the St. Maarten Lions Club’s 2014-2015 service year is a Youth Substance Use and Abuse Awareness campaign. Club president, Lion Sunil “Sunny” Khatnani said: “….a few weeks ago,  when I went out to a nightclub after a very long time, I was shocked to see how many young children were in the club drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and even marijuana, out in the open. It seems to be accepted!” He immediately realized that we have a problem. The problem got bigger when he found out that the SMMC is frequented by young St. Maarteners who are brought in by their friends with alcohol poisoning.

Today August 12th marks the International day of the Youth and it is for this reason that the St. Maarten Lions Club chose this day to kick-off their awareness campaign with their open letter to the government.


A copy of the letter can be read on the club’s Facebook page
www.facebook.com/stmaartenlionsclub.

Businesses willing to become one of the awareness campaigns corporate sponsors can contact the Club via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Nature Foundation Shark Research Project Tags Various Species with Assistance of Local Fishermen

COLE BAY - Locally mandated fishermen are continuing to assist the St. Maarten Nature Foundation with the tagging and releasing of in particular juvenile sharks species in Territorial Waters as part of the St. Maarten Nature Foundation Shark Research Program. Over the past weeks several species, including juvenile black-tip reef and Caribbean Reef Sharks have been tagged as part of a larger project where research is done on the protected shark and ray population on the island. The Caribbean Reef shark and the Black Tip Reef Shark are listed as threatened and near threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.  Tags are being placed in the animals which will provide information on the length, species, sex and habitat of the animal. Earlier tagging expeditions have also tagged a relatively rare species for St. Maarten the Atlantic sharpnose shark (Rhizoprionodon terraenovae).

The Nature Foundation has been conducting a Shark Research Project including a study that established that a single live shark is worth up to USD $884,000 to the economy of the island, as is opposed to just a few dollars dead. The majority of divers who come to the island pay top dollar to see sharks in their Natural Environment. These divers also rent cars, stay in hotels, eat at restaurants and drink in bars. Taking all of that into account and based on research conducted by the Nature Foundation a single live shark contributes $884,000 to the economy of St. Maarten annually. Sharks are an apex predator and are essential to the health of local coral reefs and if we do not have sharks we will lose our coral reef ecosystem. Sharks keep the reefs clean of unhealthy fish which in turn keeps the ecosystem in balance. They are a critical component in an ecosystem that provides 1/3 of our world with food, produces more oxygen than all the rainforests combined, removes half of the atmosphere’s manmade carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas), and controls our planet’s temperature and weather.  

Nearly two years after the historic decision to legally protect sharks and rays in St. Maarten’s territorial waters sharks and rays are now also under international protection, becoming the latest additions to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The Foundation has also been mentioned for its work to protect the species on St. Maarten and is now spearheading a project to learn more about shark and ray behavior in the marine park and near coastal waters. The Foundation is also the Scientific Authority on CITES for St. Maarten.

It is also a large step in this project to have local fisherman assisting the Nature Foundation in tagging and releasing sharks and providing essential information which will go towards the further protection of the species. The Nature Foundation and Dive Operators have also been introducing the invasive Lionfish to sharks in the hope that the animals will control the poisonous fish. The reputation of sharks as blood thirsty creatures is largely exaggerated by sensationalist reports and thousands more people are killed in dog attacks yearly than are bitten by sharks. Countries all over the world have recognized the importance of these animals and here on St. Maarten we will continue to put Shark Conservation as a top priority. The Nature Foundation is particularly grateful for the assistance of fisherman whose local traditional knowledge are essential in protecting the ocean. 

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NA Shows Support for Minister of Justice Election Campaign Guidelines

PHILIPSBURG - The Board of the National Alliance would like to take notice of the comments of the Honorable Minister of Justice, Mr. Dennis Richardson where it concerns election campaign guidelines and publicly show support for the implementation of the decision that was taken unanimously by Parliament.

If we as a new nation cannot implement decisions that are taken by Parliament, then we cannot expect anyone to take us seriously. Too many times we are constantly putting the wishes of a few above the wishes of many. Any political party that does not adhere to the Minister’s guidelines does not deserve the support of the people. Whether you agree with a decision or not, the Parliament must be respected. No one person or party is above the law.

If any party is willing to go against the decision of Parliament, a decision that was approved by no less than 6 of their members in Parliament, how can we as a people of St. Maarten trust anything that party is now saying during this campaign. If a party has no respect for its own members of Parliament why would it have respect for the people of St. Maarten. The question is why has one party publicly had a change of heart after the very same party voted in favor of the guidelines.

The National Alliance Team encourages the Honorable Minister Dennis Richardson to execute the unanimously taken decision by Parliament to bring more seriousness and professionalism to our electoral process. The people have a right to vote with a clear head and clear conscience. (Contributed by the NA party)

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