SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – On Wednesday, July 14 th 2021 Policymakers of the Department of Culture within the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sport (ECYS) met with several internal stakeholders from key Government departments.
They are Maritime Affairs within the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT), the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment, and Infrastructure (VROMI), Department of Interior and Kingdom Relations (BAK) within the Ministry of General Affairs (AZ) and National Commission for UNESCO St. Maarten (NatCom).
The main objectives of this meeting were to collect information, clarify the Department’s role and UNESCO’s Convention requirements and reassert the Minister’s overarching responsibility towards Archeology and Underwater Heritage.
Between 2009 and 2011, the Ministry of VROMI in collaboration with the Ministry of ECYS hired consultant Sanny Ensing to create a comprehensive Archeology and Anthropology Policy Plan. Archeology and Underwater Heritage falls under the domain ‘Heritage’ within the 4 pillars of the Cultural Creative Industry (CCI).
The other 3 are Art, Media and Creative Services. Archeology can be described as the scientific study of material remains and artefacts such as tools, pottery, jewelry, stone walls, and monuments of past human life and activities (Merriam Webster 2021).
Whereas underwater heritage is defined as all traces of human existence having a cultural, historical or archaeological character which have been partially or totally under water, periodically or continuously, for at least 100 years (UNESCO 2017).
Currently, the designated Archelogy depot is the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) St. Maarten Archeological Center (SIMARC). The need for an Archeology and Underwater Heritage Policy is to implement guidelines which steer archeological and underwater heritage affairs in a direction of increased protection via new procedures, an informed public due to greater awareness and a more structured approach to inter-ministerial and NGO cooperation.
The Honorable Minister drs. Rodolphe Samuel stated “Heritage management is crucial, and this combined policy will enable us to strengthen compliance, preservation, enforcement and education of St. Maarten’s Archeological and Underwater Heritage.”
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