PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The Sint Maarten Nature is informing all stakeholders of the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area that they must adhere to the Rules and Regulations of the Marine Park. “Yesterday we had to ask a vessel to leave the Marine Park because it was completely not in compliance with the rules and regulations of the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area.
The vessel was not registered at the Nature Foundation as a dive vessel, the guests on board had no SCUBA Diving tags which allows them to dive in the Marine Park, the vessel was tied up wrong to the mooring causing damage to expensive equipment and the captain was rude and belligerent towards Nature Foundation staff,” commented Tadzio Bervoets of the Nature Foundation.
It is important that these regulations are adhered to for the safety of visitors to the Marine Park as well as for the conservation of the fragile marine ecosystem of the area. Tourists to the island must purchase a dive tag which goes towards the maintenance of equipment in the Marine Park. Locals do not need to purchase a dive tag.
Dive boats can use dive site moorings as follows: mooring buoys can only hold vessels up to 30 tons. Dive moorings may only be used by vessels less than 15 meters (50 feet) overall length; only one boat is allowed on each mooring at a time; when approaching the mooring captains should pick up the yellow floating line and feed the vessel’s bow line through the loop at the end of the floating line and tie the bow line back onto the vessel.
Vessels should not tie the yellow floating line directly onto the boat. The boat line must be at least as long as your vessel.
Furthermore dive boats must respect other boats that have a ‘alpha’ flag on display and should not go closer than 30 meters to the boat for safety reasons; divers may use gloves to ascend/descend the mooring line but should avoid using gloves at any other time; all boats should expect rangers to approach them at a safe distance at any time; it is not permitted to touch, damage or remove any marine life; it is not permitted to remove any historical artifacts from the Marine Park without written permission from the authorities; all boats must adhere to applicable regulations and codes of conduct for boats operating in St. Maarten with appropriate safety equipment.
Companies with paying customers diving in the Marine Park should register with the Nature Foundation and purchase the necessary dive tags. Failure to do so will result in having to leave the Marine Park and a report will be made to the Department of Maritime Affairs.
The Nature Foundation is the designated Management Authority of the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area based on the Management Agreement between the Foundation and the Ministry TEATT.