Airport, Customs, Nature Foundation seize illegally transported Conch

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SIMPSON BAY – The Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA), Customs Department and the Nature Foundation recently collaborated in the seizure and confiscation of some 200 kilos worth of conch from outbound passengers. It is illegal to transport conch shells and certain pieces of coral outside of St. Maarten without the proper permits.

“We would like to show our sincerest appreciation to the staff and management of the Airport and the Customs Department for doing the excellent work in confiscating the shells and coral from outbound passengers,” stated Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets.

Conch shells and certain coral fall under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species and thus require a special permit to be able to transport them, alive or dead as shells. The Nature Foundation is the designated authority to issue these permits.

“We want to protect especially our ecosystem, and our beaches in particular, from the issues associated with the illegal collection and transportation of shells out of our country. We also need to especially be careful regarding the upholding of international laws and treaties St. Maarten is party to. Therefore, we are grateful for the continued cooperation between the Airport and the Customs Department in ensuring that no illegal trade in shells or wildlife occurs,” concluded Bervoets.

All shells were confiscated and reintroduced to the ocean.

Photo: Nature Foundation Office Manager Marisa Dyer-Brandy and A. Brooks of the Special Projects Department at the Airport. Credit: Nature Foundation Chief Ranger Etienne Lake