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Nature Foundation Joins Forces with Customs on the CITES Convention

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - In the last weeks the Nature Foundation St. Maarten has actively collaborated with the officers of St. Maarten Customs to exchange knowledge regarding the trade of endangered species, called CITES Convention (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

Customs Officers learned more about which species are protected under the convention, especially species occurring on St. Maarten, and details of the required permits from a biological viewpoint. Knowledge was shared about occurring concerns and issues and how the Foundation can assist officers to recognize the different endangered species. 

“Collaboration is crucial to ensure survival of endangered species and to adhere to our local and international legislations. St. Maarten customs officers are on the front line to intercept illegal wildlife trade; however, species recognition can be very challenging. We hope that our local species knowledge contributes to improve the CITES implementation on St. Maarten” stated Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern Manager at the Nature Foundation St. Maarten.   

Chief of Customs, Mr. Anthony Doran continued; “First of all, the Customs department would like to thank the Nature Foundation for taking the time out to exchange knowledge to the personnel of the Customs department over the past weeks. Our officers now have a better understanding regarding the trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.

“Specially species occurring on St. Maarten. In close collaboration with the Nature foundation, Customs will continue to ensure that all species listed on the CITES upon import and export are controlled once the proper documentation can be presented.” 

In order to trade species listed on CITES between different countries, appropriate CITES import and export permits are required and those documents need to be presented for clearance at the port of entry and exit. Examples of species listed on CITES are sea turtles, dolphins and whales, all parrots (cockatoos, parakeets and macaws), all corals, all cacti, all orchids, all primates, lignum vitae tree, some sharks (such as whale sharks and hammerheads), iguanas, seahorses, hummingbirds, tortoise (land turtle), all boa and python snakes, all alligators, crocodiles and caimans and some bats.

If these species in any state, either dead, alive, parts (such as shells or feathers) of or samples of these species, are travelling from or to other countries, CITES permits need to be requested by the CITES Management Authority of the involved States. The Nature Foundation is the designated CITES Management Authority of Sint Maarten and issues CITES permits for the country, appointed by the VROMI Minister via a Ministerial Administrative Decision. 

CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

St. Maarten is a party of the convention based on the national legislation and the nature ordinance, CITES is legally binding on the parties. In total more than 38,700 species, including roughly 5,950 species of animals and 32,800 species of plants, are protected by CITES against over-exploitation through international trade. The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need. 

Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival. Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade. 

Each Party to the CITES Convention must designate a Management Authority in charge of administering that licensing system and a Scientific Authority to advise them on the effects of trade on the status of the species. Within the Nature Foundation the Manager, currently Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern, is the appointed CITES Management Authority and the Secretary of the board, currently Rikke Bachmann-Speetjens the Scientific Authority. 

CITES attempts to address exploitation via the international wildlife trade, which is hugely lucrative for both dead and live organisms. The United Nations estimates that the illegal trade is worth between $7 billion and $23 billion a year. While the wildlife trade is devastating for ecosystems and species, it also harms local economies, societal stability, and human health. The trade is diverse, ranging from live animals and plants to a vast array of wildlife products derived from them, including food products, exotic leather goods, wooden musical instruments, timber, tourist curios and medicines. (source CITES.org). 

For any questions related to CITES or to receive information if a certain species are protected under the convention, please reach out to the Nature Foundation St. Maarten, more information can also be found at naturefoundationsxm.org/cites.

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Accident on A.J.C Brouwers road Sunday night. Passengers not wearing seat belts

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - Police Central Dispatch received several calls around 11:00pm on Sunday September 19th, 2021, about a traffic accident on A.J.C. Brouwers road near Harold Jack that may have resulted in some people sustaining injuries. Several Police patrols along with paramedics were dispatched to that location.

At the scene, it appeared that a head-on collision occurred between a white Hyundai i10 and a white Suzuki minivan.

Following a preliminary investigation by the Police Traffic Department, it appeared that the driver of the i10 driving uphill from the Kruithoff roundabout lost control of the vehicle, swerved left and struck the white minivan which was coming from the opposite direction.

The driver of the white i10 was complaining of pain in her chest. The driver of the Minivan had sustained a sprained knee. A passenger in the minivan had no seat belts on and struck his head against the windscreen.

For the driver of the white i10, who complained of chest pains, she was treated at the scene by paramedics. The minivan driver sustained a sprained knee and the passenger in the minivan who was not wearing a seatbelt suffered a head injury.

All three victims were treated at the scene and later transported to St. Maarten Medical Center for further medical treatment. None of the victims' injuries were life threatening.

Driver and passenger are being reminded to wear their seat belt. It may save your life. (KPSM)

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Rotary District Governor Louis Wever visits Rotary Sunset

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset welcomed District Governor Louis Wever to their general meeting on Monday, September 13th, 2021, at Carl’s Unique Inn & Conference Facilities. DG Wever holds one of the highest leadership positions within District 7020, which comprises of the islands St. Barthelemy, St. Maarten / St. Martin, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Haiti, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Bahamas. One of the District Governor’s core responsibilities is to visit all clubs in the district to provide support, deliver the RI President’s message, and present an update on district goals.

The meeting commenced with the sweet sounds of Sweet Pan Entertainment, as Rotary Sunset’s President, Norrisa Anatol, DG, and wife Amanda Wever, grooved their way into the conference room with rapturous cheers by the members present. During the meeting, President Anatol and committee chairs briefed DG Wever on past, present, and future projects and activities and discussed the current membership status, goals, and future strategic plans of the club. 

In addition to the club members present, Assistant Governor, Seymour Hodge, joined in on the momentous occasion via Zoom. DG Wever, making Rotary Sunset his first choice as he commences his official visits to all clubs in District 7020, he delivered a reflective message to the club members on the status of the district. He also discussed district’s efforts to assist our brothers and sisters in Haiti and encouraged the members of Rotary Sunset to do its part in providing relief. DG Wever also highlighted the importance of friendship and partnership with other Rotary clubs. He concluded his message by commending President Anatol and the club for continuously executing effective initiatives in the community and reminded the members to constantly attract new professionals who exhibits humanitarian attributes.

On behalf of the club, President Anatol presented DG Wever and his wife with a lovely basket filled with goodies, which included two beautiful, customized color changing mugs embellished with a photo of the couple. The night came to an end with fellowship and the opportunity for club members to capture memorable moments with DG Wever.

The members of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset would like to thank DG Wever and his wife for their visit to the club and look forward to an impactful Rotary year 2021-2022 under their leadership. The club would also like to show appreciation to Sweet Pan Entertainment for their exquisite performance. The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset meets on the second and fourth Monday of the month at Carl N Sons Unique Inn and Conference Facilities in Cole Bay at 7:30pm. Due to COVID-19, the club currently meets via Zoom ID: 992-348-5801. The club can be contacted via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via the official Facebook page at facebook.com/rotarysxmsunset.

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Social Economic Council presents the annual year report 2020 to Prime Minister Jacobs

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Friday, September 17th, 2021, the Social Economic Council (SER) represented by the Chairman Mr. Damien Richardson, paid a visit to the Honorable Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and presented her with the 2020 annual report.

During the presentation of the report, the Chairman gave the Prime Minister a summary of the pending advices. In addition, the annual report highlights the achievements, future plans and overall functioning of the SER. 

Furthermore, the working relationship between the Ministry of General Affairs and SER was discussed. Both parties agreed to revisit the recommendations made by the Ombudsman in its 2020 annual report. The overall goal is to improve and strengthen the working relationship between the Ministry of General Affairs and the SER.

Secretary General Richardson informed the Prime Minister that the SER looks forward to the revision of the National ordinance SER, which will grant the advisory body the legal basis to advise parliament directly on important socio-economic matters.  

As an advisory and consultative body of employers' representatives, union representatives and independent experts, the Social and Economic Council aims to help create consensus on socio-economic issues. 

The SER’s advice is guided by the objective of social prosperity in its widest sense. This includes not only material progress i.e., increased affluence and production, but also social progress such as, improved welfare and social cohesion. 

The annual report is published in English and is available to the public on the website of the SER (www.ser.sx

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Travel Requirements to be Adjusted Oct. 1st. Travel Opportunities from the Latin American Market

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – As of October 1st, 2021, the banned travel countries list will be eliminated, and these countries will be placed in a new ‘very high risk,’ category that will have the following requirements.

Travelers originating from these countries must be fully vaccinated; and must provide valid proof of a negative PCR test not older than 48-hours before departure on last leg to destination Sint Maarten. With respect to non-vaccinated travelers, these persons are required to provide valid proof of a negative PCR test not older than 24-hours before departure on last leg to the destination.

Once the requirements have been fully complied with, travelers will be allowed entry into the country. Travel requirements to the destination can be found on the country’s Electronic Health Authorization System (EHAS) website: stmaartenehas.com/travel-requirements/

The change has to do with the continued roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine in various countries around the world.

Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) Hon. Roger Lawrence, said on Sunday that the further adjustment in travel requirements will contribute to the continued economic expansion of the national economy for the upcoming high tourism season.

Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour Hon. Omar Ottley, said public health and security of the Sint Maarten community remains the key principle in guiding the decisions of the Government. Minister Ottley continues to strongly recommend getting vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to maximize your protection from the Delta variant. COVID-19 vaccines are an important tool to help stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Sint Maarten Tourism Bureau (STB) has already indicated that interests for travel from the Latin American market from tour operators and travel agents are up and are in talks with COPA Airlines to fly from Panama to the island once again.  

The current banned countries travel list that will no longer exist as of October 1st, 2021, are: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

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Destination Continues to See Tourism Sector Growth. U.S. Market Leads National Recovery

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The St. Maarten Tourism Bureau (STB) said on Sunday that for the summer months of June, July and August 2021, the destination received in total 80,006 visitor arrivals.

72% of arrivals during the summer months originated from the US, 13% from France, 13% from the rest of Europe, 1% from the Caribbean, and 2% from other regions such as South America, Canada, and Asia.

For the summer months, the month of June, the destination received 25,443 arrivals. The destination reached a peak in July with 30,661 arrivals. Compared to July 2019 (pre COVID-19), this was a 2% increase in overall arrivals. August saw a bit of a decrease with 23,902 arrivals.

Looking at arrival’s performance by market, the United States market continues to lead the recovery, even in the month of August when overall arrival performance dipped.

The United States arrivals continue to grow compared to the respective months in 2019 showcasing an even stronger performance in 2021 compared to that of 2019.

On the other side, Canadian and South American arrivals lag way behind, carrying the performance of overall August arrivals down.

The STB has executed an aggressive marketing and public relations campaign in the U.S. market to capture the interests of travelers, and the aforementioned has increased consumer awareness and bookings are trending upwards as well as airline load factors.

The national tourism economy stimulus was kicked off with various consumer and trade initiatives. One being the SXM Villa Vibes campaign highlighting the villa product on the island.

The campaign which has not only been pushed via social media, but press channels, was picked up by Boston Globe, Seattle PI, Luxury travel, and other major publications resulting in a reach in the millions.

Sint Maarten’s Travel Agent Months targeting travel agents in the North American market has also kicked off, during which on island partners offer discounts to agents encouraging travel agents to experience the destination for themselves and to continue pushing Sint Maarten as the destination to visit to their clients.

“We have big expectations for arrival performance for the upcoming season based on the current performance of the US market and with our third highest source market, Canada, returning this winter season with flights from Toronto and Montreal,” says Market Researcher, Sabrina Carty.

Director of STB May-Ling Chun said: “It is about creating those moments for the consumers that fulfill their desire to travel to Sint Maarten because we just captured the perfect answer to their needs at that given time when they open up that social media page or read an article of a blogger that we host, or an article that was pitched to the various reading channels.”

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Non-EU visitors will need daily tests under Dutch corona pass rules

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Visitors from outside the EU face having to take daily coronavirus tests even if they have been fully vaccinated when the corona pass system goes live on September 25.

The Dutch CoronaCheck app only recognises vaccines that are compatible with the European Digital Coronavirus Certificate, including a handful of non-EU countries such as Norway and Turkey.

Tourists from other countries, including the UK and the US, will not be able to use their domestic Covid apps at restaurants, cafes, sporting venues and theatres in the Netherlands.

It means they will have to show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken in the previous 24 hours in order to eat out in a restaurant, drink in a bar or go to a football match. They can have a drink at a pavement cafe but will need a test certificate to use the indoor toilet.

Unlike other EU nations such as France and Belgium, where the local Covid pass recognise the British NHS app, the Dutch government has deferred to the EU when it comes to approving vaccine certificates from third countries.

However, as the UK has not yet started the process of having its Covid app recognised by the EU, the situation is unlikely to change in the near future.

There is a procedure for registering vaccine certificates from the NHS and other foreign health services in the Dutch Covid app, but it is only available to people living in the Netherlands who have a social security number (BSN).

Tourist trade

Hospitality industry bosses are worried that the setback will hit the tourist trade just as mandatory quarantine is dropped for vaccinated travellers on September 22, with people choosing Paris or Brussels rather than Amsterdam for their autumn break.

A spokeswoman for industry body Koninklijk Horeca Nederland told DutchNews: ‘Without a BSN or digital access they can’t get a vaccine certificate, so they’ll have to test, test, test. It’s not an ideal situation.’

In 2019 visitors from the UK and US accounted for 24.6% of all overnight stays by foreign tourists to the Netherlands. Tourists have been told on social media this week that they will have to take a free PCR test before they can enter bars, nightclubs and events from next Saturday.

Tests can be booked by calling the corona testing hotline on 0800 1202.

Not everybody was put off by the prospect of taking daily tests during their holiday. Ian Ratcliffe said on Twitter: ‘We’re happy to get a test everyday if needed. Minor inconvenience but at least it’s free.’

A spokesman for the health ministry said the issue of recognising third countries’ vaccinations was a matter for the EU. ‘Regarding the DCC, decisions are being made at European level with countries outside the EU.

‘Countries have to go through a process to be connected to the DCC. The UK is not yet in this process, so it is not included on the list [of prospective countries]. As we have said, people in the Netherlands can take free coronavirus tests.’

(DutchNews)

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MPs back corona pass plan, but say no to checks at pavement cafes

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – MPs have voted narrowly in favour of the government’s plans to scrap social distancing and make use of the coronavirus check app more widespread but say the pass system should not operate on cafes outside spaces.

The government plans to drop social distancing from September 25 and replace it with the CoronaCheck QR code app, which shows a green tick if the user is either fully vaccinated, has recently had coronavirus or has a negative test no older than 24 hours.

Coronavirus in the Netherlands: what you need to know Prime minister Mark Rutte had urged MPs not to support an exemption for cafe terraces, arguing that it would make using the app more complicated and would cause problems if customers wanted to pay indoors or visit the toilets.

Nevertheless, the motion, drawn up by the coalition Christian Democrats and opposition Labour party, was passed. They argued that coronavirus spreads much less quickly outdoors.

The introduction of the coronavirus pass has infuriated cafe and bar owners in particular, who claim it will cost thousands of euros to run the checks in the coming months.

Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema has already said that council wardens will not check up on whether the app is being used, because of a lack of manpower. The Hague, Groningen, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Nijmegen also see problems with making sure the pass is being used, the Telegraaf reported on Friday.

‘It simply can’t be enforced,’ a spokesman for Nijmegen mayor Hubert Bruls told the paper. ‘Like Amsterdam, we don’t have the people to check if every cafe is keeping to the rules.’

Some cafe owners have already gone public, saying they will not operate the system. Similar passes and QR codes are widely used in other EU countries, without major problems.

(DutchNews)

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50 children were taken away illegally by a parent this summer

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – At least 50 children were kidnapped by a parent during the summer holidays and either taken from or brought to the Netherlands, the national monitor IKO said on Friday.

All but 48 of the children are still missing, the IKO said. In total, 37 children were taken illegally from the Netherlands and 13 were brought here. Mothers were involved in 60% of the kidnappings and most of the children – 43 out of 50 – were under the age of 13.

By law in the Netherlands, divorced or separated couples have to have the permission of the other parent to take a child abroad. Last year in total 224 children were illegally taken abroad.

The mother was responsible in 75% of those cases.

(DutchNews)

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Donation to Studio Joga SXM BV. Offers Vinyasa, Pilates and Pre & Postnatal Yoga

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On September 10th, 2021, the Rotary Club of Sint Maarten- Mid Isle, donated a total of USD $450 to Joga SXM BV. Joga SXM BV is a yoga studio, which offers a variety of yoga classes including Vinyasa, Pilates and Pre & Postnatal Yoga.

Present at the presentation were President Wayne Wilkie, District Governor 7020 Louis Wever and District Secretary Anjali Manek. Representing Joga SXM BV to receive the funds were Niki Wozniak and Sasha Mall.

The representatives from Joga SXM BV expressed their gratitude for assisting the studio financially. With the funds donated by the Rotary Club of Sint Maarten- Mid Isle, Joga SXM BV is now able to assist a group of five expectant mothers on the island with prenatal care and birth preparation classes.

Many women on the island are not properly educated as to their rights regarding birthing procedures. They are not knowledgeable about what is required to take good care of themselves during pregnancy, and during the immediate weeks following birth.

Without proper birth preparation, the expectant mother is left to completely rely on the medical system, which may devoid her from using her own ability to trust in the natural wisdom of her body. This usually results in complications, and it has happened that great stress is caused to both mother and child- birth trauma which affects a woman once she has gone through the immense transition of birthing a child.

Birth trauma affects the mother psychologically which in turn affects the development of the child. The experience of birth profoundly affects women, babies, fathers, and families and have important and long-lasting effects on society.

The Rotary Club of Sint Maarten- Mid Isle would like to wish Joga SXM BV much success, and we hope that they can continue their good work in the community for many more years to come.

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