Minister Lake implores boat owners to clear lagoon of sunken vesselsPOSTED: 11/3/14 7:53 PM
St. Maarten – “I’ve observed some of the vessels that partially sank or were blown ashore have been removed within the Simpson Bay Lagoon; however, there are still a number of vessels that are partially underwater or sitting onshore. I am appealing to the owners of the vessels to make arrangements to have these vessels removed as soon as possible,” Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure Maurice Lake said on Sunday. Minister Lake is calling on mariners whose vessels were damaged during the passing of Hurricane Gonzalo, some three weeks ago, to remove the vessels from inland waterways and lagoons and to clean up any remaining debris.
In an assessment following Gonzalo, the St. Maarten Nature Foundation noted that approximately three dozen boats had sunk and that there was significant debris, such as wood, fiberglass and other solid materials, floating in the lagoon. The Nature Foundation also found significant amounts of gasoline and diesel in the lagoon. Oil was also present in the form of motor oil. The Minister’s appeal is in line with Nature Foundation’s recommendation from its first assessment report, wherein it advised that wrecked vessels be removed as fast as possible to reduce the further introduction of fuel into the environment of the Simpson Bay Lagoon and Oyster Pond areas.
“The boat owners of vessels that are submerged or partially submerged, and those that are near the shoreline, should check if there is fuel still on board and have that removed in a responsible manner prior to moving the vessel. This is the responsible thing to do, and I am sure every boat owner is aware of that. All stakeholders have a responsibility to take care of our natural waterways and lagoons,” said Minister Lake. He would also like mariners to come together to help clean up the shorelines in the inland waterways and lagoons of debris caused by the category 1 hurricane.
“Due to boats being tossed around and sunk due to the passing of the hurricane, a lot of debris washed ashore and is an eyesore, but most importantly, it’s bad for the environment. I would like to see boat owners and the maritime sector come together to clean up the areas that they utilize as part of the national clean-up effort.”
Minister Lake added that just as there was a national clean-up campaign on land, so should there be one for the waterways and coastal areas of St. Maarten: “We have the tourist season that is coming up, and we should also have our waterways and lagoons clean of debris associated with the maritime sector. I think this is something that could be coordinated by the maritime sector. We had a national clean-up on land, now we need the maritime sector to follow up suit, and I am looking forward to seeing this come together within short.”