Minister of Economic Affairs delivers address at Shark Symposium
PHILIPSBURG:— Honorable Dignitaries, Invited guest, Conference speakers and attendees, Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to the beautiful Island St Maarten. I welcome you here to our island and thank you all for traveling here for the Caribbean Shark Conservation Symposium. I sincerely regret that I could not be here in person to welcome you. I would like to thank our co-hosts, The St. Maarten Nature Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and The Bahamas National Trust, for working with us to make this symposium a reality.
We have an exciting program in store for you over the next two days. We will hear from global shark experts including scientists, economists, and trade experts. You will have the opportunity to hear from keynote speaker Sir Richard Branson, fellow governments and NGOs about their respective efforts on shark conservation. They have traveled here from as far away as Canada and Hong Kong.
Why do sharks need protection ? Well, many people may not realize this, but many shark species are headed toward extinction. In fact, scientists tell us that 100 million are killed every year. But sharks are important to our oceans, and they are important to islands like St. Maarten. They balance our ecosystem and they are an important part of our tourism economy because divers from all over the world come here for the opportunity to see sharks in the wild.
Here on St. Maarten we’ve formally recognized the value of our sharks and as a result, they are fully protected. Thanks in large part to the work of the St. Maarten Nature Foundation, in 2012 the Government of St. Maarten placed a 10-year moratorium on shark fishing, thereby designating our waters a shark sanctuary. Tomorrow we will formally announce a long-term extension of our shark sanctuary. We want these magnificent creatures to be here for our children and grandchildren, and for all the future visitors to our island.
We understand that many in attendance have also taken bold strides in ocean conservation, or are currently working to do so. As the St. Maarten minister of Tourism Economic Affairs Transportation and Telecommunication, I truly hope that all stakeholders, businessmen and experts will find common ground for the sake of this formidable species.
Protecting and Saving our Shark population will have economic benefits for our island. Your efforts, followed by concrete proposals and agreements during this conference will yield invaluable information that will be translated into concrete policy actions from our government.
Source: St. Martin News Network
Government announces “long term plan to protect Sharks”