PHILIPSBURG – Last Friday morning, April 8, the Nature Foundation was contacted by the Coast Guard Kustwacht Caribisch Gebied regarding a fishing vessel, which had been controlled. The vessel was found to contain four juvenile Caribbean Reef Sharks in their hold.
The fish were seized and the captain fined in accordance with the offense.
All species of sharks are illegal to catch and kill in the territorial waters of St. Maarten through the Ministerial Decree of October 2012, considering how important they are to the ecosystem. Additionally, a National Decree was taken to temporarily ban the fishing of sharks. In Article 2.2. of the law, AB Saint Martin Volume 2011 No. 35, says: “It is prohibited in the internal waters, territorial sea and fishing area for this species including sharks, rays and fish rogachtige called cartilaginous fish.”
This legislation is not as well known, and is little used, thus this article is to inform the fishermen of St. Maarten.
The sharks were confiscated and the case is now at the Openbaar Ministerie St. Maarten/Public Prosecutor’s Office St. Maarten.
After permission was granted by the Prosecutor, measurements were taken of the confiscated animals. The four specimens of Caribbean Reef Shark (Charcharinhus perezii) were in the juvenile stage.
They were approximately 6 months old.
Specimen 1: Length Over All (LOA) 64 centimeters. Sex: Male;
Specimen 2: LOA 65 centimeters. Sex: Male;
Specimen 3: LOA 66 centimeters. Sex: Male;
Specimen 4: LOA 63 centimeters. Sex: Male.
This incident highlighted the importance of the DCNA #saveourshark project funded by the Dutch National Postcode Lottery, where not only fishermen are educated, but the Nature Foundation also works closely with law enforcement to uphold the law protecting these critically important yet globally threatened animals.
To highlight the seriousness of this incident, the foundation’s Facebook page had the following hashtags: Stenapa St. Eustatius #savedutchcaribbeansharks #shark #sharkconservation; Pew Environment Shark Defenders; Save Our Sharks NL; STINAPA Bonaire Arikok National Park; Sharks4Kids #SharkStrong.