STENAPA did not endorse Statia Marine Park reduction

ST. EUSTATIUS–St. Eustatius National Parks STENAPA has never endorsed the reduction of the internationally-protected marine park around the island. The nature organization stated Sunday in a letter to the Executive Council that it was never involved in the design of the amendment to the Marine Environment Ordinance, which reduces the park, nor has it endorsed the reduction of the park in any way.

“It was only after the approval by the Island Council in May 2015 that STENAPA received the text of the draft amendment to change the boundaries of the park,” said STENAPA’s Marine Park Manager Jessica Berkel.

“Since then we have been consulted a few times about the level of conservation in the amended situation, but it was always emphasized to us that the amendment itself was not up for discussion as it was a done deal,” said Berkel.

STENAPA has offered two proposals in which both the harbour and nature are taken into consideration, she added.

STENAPA’s statement is a reaction to a reply from the Island Government to Dutch State secretary of Economic Affairs Martijn van Dam saying that the changes to the marine park were done in “good consultation” with STENAPA.

The Dutch Government has threatened to suspend or annul the 2015 amendment to the St. Eustatius Marine Environment Ordinance which reduces the National Marine Park by some 20 per cent.

Statia’s Government denounced the warning and said it has acted according to the existing laws and regulations.

“Our nature organization is open to discuss with Government how to pave a way forward through this deadlock,” said Berkel, “but at the same time we ask the Executive Council to adhere to the facts.”

STENAPA said it realizes the significance of the harbour to Statia’s economic development. “However, as the organization on the island that is mandated to protect nature, we continue to have great interest in conserving the island’s marine life and biodiversity for the future. We discussed in 2016 the possibility with government to organize a multi-stakeholder round-table conference on the island, where we can work towards a shared vision and approach. It is with great pleasure that we repeat this offer to government,” said Berkel.

Source: The Daily Herald