Stenapa to celebrate 20 years of Marine Park management

Various species of fish swim above one of Statia’s coral reefs.

ST. EUSTATIUS–St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation Stenapa will be celebrating twenty years of managing St. Eustatius’ Marine Park. The Foundation will be celebrating this milestone with a one-day event in Oranjestad on December 4, from 10:00am until 6:00pm.

  “Statia’s Marine Park is an important natural resource to the island. We want to celebrate this milestone with the community,” said Education and Outreach Officer Hannah Fairley.

  The Marine Park was ratified by the local Government in 1996. The National Parks Foundation was mandated to manage the protected area of 27.5 square kilometres in 1997 and continues to do so.

  Statia’s Marine Park protects marine resources that are deemed vital to the island economy, the benefits of which can be seen across all sections of the community, Stenapa says.

  No anchorage and fishing zones in the marine reserves at the north and south of the island have ensured that the most diverse coral reefs are protected. Protection of healthy coral reefs means that fish populations have increased providing a livelihood for fishermen.

  Divers come to Statia to explore its untouched coral reefs. The industry generates US $3 million per year for the island via the money spent at local businesses and the various services used.

  Additionally, intact coral reefs reduce the impact of large swells on the coastline reducing cliff and soil erosion.

  Since 1997, Stenapa has actively managed the Marine Park which encircles the entire island from the high-water line to the 30-meter depth contour.

  Under the Marine Environmental Ordinance of 1996 all marine life and ecosystems are protected within the park boundaries. Additionally, international treaties protect specific endangered or migratory species such as the Green Sea Turtle or Humpback Whale, and control the illegal dumping of substances in the ocean.

  Various regulations that apply to the Marine Park and its reserves prevent damage to marine life and habitats and ensure a healthy marine environment for Statia.

  “The National Parks Foundation is very focused on affording the Marine Park the very best protection. So many stakeholders, and in fact our entire local community, rely on the health of the Park in one way or another,” said Marine Park Manager Jessica Berkel.

  Stenapa will host its one-day event in the empty lot across from Carlos Lopes’ place in the centre of Oranjestad. Barbecue food and drinks will be on sale, alongside information tables and a chance to participate in a silent auction.

Source: The Daily Herald