Nature Foundation Repopulates Corals on in Marine ParkPOSTED: 02/2/15 1:02 AM
St. Maarten -Through the assistance and backing of luxury horlogier Hublot and the Alwani Family of the Little Europe chain of stores, the St. Maarten Nature Foundation over the past eighteen months researched, installed and managed various coral nurseries at various locations around St. Maarten. The Coral Nurseries were installed in order to provide fast coral growth so that new coral fragments could be transplanted both on reefs within the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area and closer to shore. Since the passing of Hurricane Gonzalo last October the Nature Foundation has been working on transplanting coral to some of the damaged reefs inside of the Man of War Shoal Marine Park.
Due to rapid coastal development and climate change St. Maarten has lost nearly 80% of its near shore coral reefs. Coral reefs are an essential part of the Marine ecosystem as they provide habitat for numerous creatures and are often described as the ‘rainforests’ of the sea. Coral reefs also form a barrier to rising sea water levels caused by climate change and can act as a very important mitigating factor for the effects of Climate Change. Some of the coral was damaged due to the passing of Hurricane Gonzalo and these areas are the focus for transplanting and repopulation project.
Additionally, the man of War Shoal Marine Park and the coral reef areas within it are of significant environmental and economic importance as diving in Marine Parks is globally on the rise and generally accepted by the diving tourist as a “must do” vacation activity.
With proper management and restoration the area will increase the St. Maarten Tourism Product and local fisheries will also be enhanced through the regeneration of the depleted fish stock surrounding St. Maarten. Research has shown that Marine Protected Areas increase fish populations and fish size of commercial species in nearby fishing grounds.