SIMPSON BAY–Nature Foundation and Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment VROMI Inspectors recently mapped the number of vessels still abandoned or sunk in Simpson Bay Lagoon after Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017.
Nature Foundation mapped and geo-located 101 boats still abandoned or sunk in the Lagoon, including both salvaged and not-salvaged vessels. The Foundation is very concerned about vessels remaining in the Lagoon some two weeks before the start of the 2018 hurricane season.
“Last week, we managed to map out the remaining wrecks in the Simpson Bay Lagoon and unfortunately there are still a significant number of wrecks. … This situation is quite worrying considering both the environmental effects of still having all of these vessels in the Lagoon, but also in terms of what to do with the vessels considering the pending hurricane season,” said Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets.
If there is a weather event with these vessels still in the Lagoon, they can cause further damage to both the environment and infrastructure, he added.
The Foundation calls for a structured disposal plan for vessels still in the Lagoon.
“Unfortunately, considering all of the issues going on concerning waste management, we do not suggest carrying wrecked vessels, including vessels larger than 30 metres to the landfill. Considering this, we suggest a coordinated and cooperative removal plan with St. Martin taking into account the environmental effects of removal,” said Bervoets.
The Foundation also calls for legislation leading up to the hurricane season regarding vessels entering and staying in the lagoon during threatening storms.
“There is a real need for legislation which outlines what happens in the Lagoon with regard to threatening storms and the use of Simpson Bay Lagoon. Many vessels which have been abandoned belong to owners who have left the island,” he said.
The other issue is related to the delay regarding the salvaging of vessels right after Hurricane Irma which has caused many vessels that were still salvageable to be completely written off.
“We have learned valuable lessons in the past few months and it is now necessary for us to apply these lessons learned in order to make thus country more resilient,” said Bervoets.