The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation, through the support of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance DCNA, has been able to structurally put a program in place to clean the beaches over the past week. Despite several beach-clean-ups being held and due to large amount of trash and hurricane debris still being found on the beaches the Foundation decided to request DCNA for relief funds to structurally clean beaches. “While we were doing our assessments on the ground post-hurricane Irma and Maria, and after the follow-up assessments which were conducted especially leading into the restarting of the Tourism Season we decided that the beaches were still not at a level of cleanliness they should be. We therefore appealed to the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance who made funding available for us to rent equipment and pay the manpower necessary to structurally clean the beaches. We have started at Mullet Bay Beach and will be working our way down to Dawn beach in the next few days,” commented Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Manager.

For the past two months the Nature Foundation has placed a lot of focus on cleaning both the beaches above as underwater, making the areas safe for swimming. “There are some areas that are still a concern. The area in front of Karakter Beach Bar where there has been a wreck for some years is still dangerous for swimming. However we buoyed the area off as to warn simmers from swimming there. We have also been working with young people from our district in Cole Bay and from Dive Operators paying them a stipend so that they can also have an income while they assist us in getting the beaches clean. So far we have removed five dump trucks worth of trash from Mullet Bay and five dump trucks from Simpson Bay and we will continue to clean methodically,” continued Bervoets.

The Foundation also met with a group of Tour Operators on Monday were discussions were held on readying the beaches for the arrival of the cruise ship passengers and with the various Government entities about the status of beaches; our beaches are our primary natural resource and as such we need to ensure that they are healthy from both an environmental and economic point of view. We also are urging people to keep their property clean and properly dispose of garbage,” concluded Bervoets.

Nature Foundation staff and Volunteers clean various beaches around the island.