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Nature Foundation re-launches Sixth Annual Marine Mammal Monitoring Project

humpback27022017Using Specialized Equipment to Record Unique Whale Songs in Local Waters

PHILIPSBURG:---- The St. Maarten Nature Foundation is once again conducting its Marine Mammal Monitoring project which will last until May. The Nature Foundation, in cooperation with Dolphin Defenders St. Maarten; the Reserve Naturelle of St. Martin and St. Barths; the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance and various other partners, will be conducting a wide scale census of all Marine Mammals found in St. Maarten/ St. Martin territorial waters, including within the Man of War Shoal Marine Park. “Many on St. Maarten might not be aware that there is a relatively significant Marine Mammal population in the waters surrounding St. Maarten, including numerous species of whales and dolphins. St. Maarten lies within the area of the Western Atlantic where various whale species come to give birth to their young. From February to May several hundreds of Humpback Whales migrate from the northern Atlantic to areas within the Caribbean to give birth and nurse their young before heading back up north”, commented Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Manager.

Numerous other species of whale and dolphin, including sperm whales and several types of dolphins, make their home in local waters. Several questions are hoped to be answered as a result of the study, including most numerous species, migration routes and dates, and the feasibility of regulated wild whale and dolphin watching trips. This year the Nature Foundation will once again be partnering with Dolphin Defenders St. Maarten to bring greater awareness to the general public about St. Maarten’s wild Marine Mammal Population and conservation issues faced by Marine Mammals in local waters. The Nature Foundation also hopes that St. Maarten will become a signatory to the Marine Mammal Sanctuary currently being established in the North Eastern Caribbean.

The most abundant Maine Mammal species recorded in 2016 was the Humpback Whale, with the total number recorded at 33 individuals, including calves. The second most abundant species was the Bottle Nose Dolphin, with total of 45 individuals; the third most abundant species recorded was the Long-Snouted Spinner Dolphin with 22 individuals recorded within the island’s territorial waters. During research conducted in conjunction with the French Marine Reserve, the MEGARA Foundation and the AGOA Marine Mammal Sanctuary satellite tags were placed on eight Humpback Whales and their migratory patterns tracked. This year research will also again be conducted on whether or not St. Maarten whales have any connectivity with whales which migrate through the waters of the Yarari Marine Mammal Reserve, a recently established marine mammal sanctuary in Saba and Bonaire.

The Man of War Shoal Marine Park had a considerable number of recordings of both whale and dolphin species which adds considerably to the biological value of the Park. Acoustic recordings of Male Humpback Whales singing will also be taken at various points in the waters surrounding St. Maarten using specialized recording equipment donated to the organization by the IMARES research institute in the Netherlands. The public is urged to listen to the local whale songs and look at video and photo of marine mammals in our local waters by looking at the Nature Foundation YouTube and Facebook pages.

If the public is interested in participating in the marine Mammal census they can send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and request a sighting form. Various charter boat and dive operators have been given copies of forms which they can distribute to their clients.

Preclearance coming to SXM Airport.

preclearance26022017PHILIPSBURG:--- Sint Maarten has moved one step closer to realizing preclearance at our SXM Airport, Prime Minister William Marlin announced following the first round of meetings between the government of Sint Maarten and negotiators of the CBP Customs and Border Protection and the TSA Transportation and Security Administration.
Marlin, who led the Sint Maarten delegation said he was very pleased with the meetings and is anxiously looking forward to the completion of the process.
The benefits for Sint Maarten are many and creates new opportunities for an increase in passenger movements at our airport.
The first meeting was held on Wednesday, February 15 and the team presented, Prime Minister Marlin and Minister of Justice, Rafael Boasman and their delegation with an overview of the preclearance program and the expansion process.
The first round of negotiations started the following day when the preclearance bilateral agreement was presented and discussed. The CBP presented an in debt overview of the topics covered in the CBP Bilateral Agreement while in the afternoon session there was a discussion with the TSA of corresponding MOC and key topics.
On Friday the discussions continued with the SXM Airport team.
The Prime Minister said that the first agreement that has to be signed off on to make preclearance a reality is an agreement, a treaty between the US Government and the Kingdom of the Netherlands on behalf of Sint Maarten.
Marlin will discuss this with the Kingdom Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Bert Koenders when they meet on Tuesday and Wednesday in Aruba this week.
The first draft agreement has been received by the Sint Maarten government this week and Marlin said a special preclearance team will review the draft agreement and advise the government on the way forward. The government will be sending its comments in writing as soon as the team completes its review and submits its advice.
Preclearance makes it possible for travelers to the USA to clear Immigration and Customs, Public Health, and Department of Agriculture inspections right here at SXM Airport before boarding their flight.
This will enable passengers to make faster and easier connections when arriving in the United States as they would no longer have to go through Customs and Immigration.
The members of the DHS delegation included Assistant Commissioner, Mr. Mark Koumans, Principle Negotiator on behalf of CBP, Regional Director, Miss. Mariely Loperena – Principle Negotiator on behalf of TSA, Mr. Scott Atack – Policy Advisor for CPB and Mr. Cleatus Hunt Jr. – Preclearance Operations Advisor.
Prime Minister Marlin and Minister Boasman were supported by several civil servants including the Secretaries General to the Council of Ministers, and of the Ministries of General Affairs, Justice, and Justice. The Chief of Police, representatives of the Civil Aviation Department and management of SXM Airport as well as the chairman of the airport Holding and Operating Companies.

EXCLUSIVE: GEBE CEO walks out of board meeting because of disagreement.

Chairman threatens the government with DP two seats, No Minister can remove him from his chair.

PHILIPSBURG:---Chaos broke out on Saturday during GEBE Supervisory Board meeting with the management board of GEBE. According to information reaching SMN News, states that the CEO of GEBE Kenrick Chittick stormed out of the meeting in a furious manner when at least one of the supervisory board members suggested to him that GEBE should run the test on Engine 20 around 3 am in the morning rather the 7 am schedule he had. The source said that the supervisory board member felt that if the test run was done during the wee-hours of the morning fewer people, especially businesses would be affected. This, however, Chittick did not agree with and instead of discussing the matter with the board he stormed out of the meeting in a very angry manner.
SMN News learned that the reaction from the CEO left most of the board members in total shock because of the arrogance and disrespect showed to them by the CEO.
Another matter that is brewing is the removal of the chairman of the supervisory board that has health related issues.
SMN News further learned that the chairman who was recently hospitalized made clear that the current Minister of VROMI cannot remove him because his political party has two seats in the current coalition and further to that the current Minister of VROMI Christopher Emmanuel is not the one that appointed him to his position.
Last week the Minister in response to a question from SMN News said that he will suggest to the Council of Ministers to remove the chair due to his health conditions. Minister Emmanuel made clear that no decision was taken on the replacement but the health conditions of the chairman have to be evaluated and a decision will be taken by the Council of Ministers. He also stated that another person will soon occupy seat left by Member of Parliament Romeo Pantophlet, SMN News understands that Claudius Buncamper is the candidate that was selected and the government is awaiting an advice from the Council of Advice prior to making that appointment.
Several persons including employees have stated that the chair of the supervisory board is micromanaging the government-owned company rather than supervising the management board.
It is stated that the chair when he was in better health was visiting GEBE on a daily basis and has been giving the management board orders. The employees even alleged that the management board refuses to take orders from the Supervisory Board but listens only to the chairman who supports them in whatever they do whether or not it benefits the company. They even went as far as saying that the chair is busy making personal deals through the company and this is the reason he is at GEBE's office on a daily basis.
Efforts made to reach the chairman Roy Marlin on Sunday proved futile as he could not be reached by telephone.

St. Dominic High Interact Club is called to share.

stdominicschool26020217PHILIPSBURG:--- On February 6, 2017, to kick off Catholic Schools week under the theme: We are called to share with others, the Interact Club of St. Dominic High School welcomed Les Fruits de Mer President Ms. Jenn Yerkes and representatives from the Sister Basilia Center during the school's weekly assembly.

The Interact Club presented Sister Basilia Center with a donation of NAF. 1800. As well as, sponsoring NAF 198 to Les Fruits de Mer in order to become Friends of the Museum. Les Fruits de Mer curates Amuseum Naturalis our island's only natural history museum that strives to educate visitors and citizens about St. Maarten’s unique natural history. The Sister Basilia Center works with intellectually challenged clients.

These donations were made possible through Interact’s annual “Gift Wrapping for a Cause” project. During the Christmas Holidays, the members wrap gifts and the collected donations are given to charitable causes on St. Maarten.

The entire Interact would like to thank everyone who contributed to this project. Our biggest supporters every Christmas season are Klass Electronics and Super Plaza who offer space on their premises to wrap gifts. Without their continued support, our project would not have been a success. The Interact Club would also like to thank everyone who came out and helped with the gift wrapping service, and we would also like to say a big thank you to our School Manager Ms. Gianne de Weever, our mentors Ms. Patrice Davis and Ms. Jennifer Halley, and everyone else who made this project possible.
We would also like to wish both Les Fruits de Mer and Sister Basilia Center all the best for their future endeavors.
"Giving back is not just about making a donation; it is about making a difference." A beautiful quote by Kathy Calvin, perfectly describes the enlightening feeling we had after making the donations.
The Interact Club of St. Dominic High School is a school based Interact Club sponsored by the Rotary Club of St. Maarten - Mid-Isle. Through teamwork, this club works together to help the community.

GEBE continues to make strides in building effective teams with TPI

tpigebe26022017PHILIPSBURG:--- N.V GEBE held the second round of departmental full day “Building Effective Teams” (B.E.T) Retreats facilitated by Training Professionals International Firm, TPI on February 23 and February 24, 2017, held at the Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach. The retreats are a continuation of the Managing Board’s (MB) committed initiative to improve department processes, procedures, systems, and functions. With a special emphasis on employee performance, accountability, leadership, team synergy and effective communication.
The B.E.T Retreats commenced early this month for the Distribution department held on February 2 and February 3, 2017. The results have been measurably successful and the MB has taken initiatives to ensure the department’s progress is consistent and monitored. The MB Board has committed to the Post B.E.T. Follow up sessions for the departments and they will be held in April. The Post sessions will provide an objective analysis of the changes that have taken place in the department, measure the effects of the changes as it relates to enhanced productivity, gain valuable feedback from all members of the departments, acknowledge achievements, provide ongoing support to leadership and establish ongoing short and long term measurable goals.
Dr. Gittens, President & CEO of TPI stated: Distribution and Production illustrated an obvious desire to commit to the new direction of N.V. GEBE. The organization has been faced with some challenges over the last several months but the staff remains committed to improving areas that will both regain and maintain the community’s confidence. It has been proven statistically that a “learning organization” must look at their “current state,” good bad or indifferent to formulate a revised plan to reach effective operational progression and success.
Mr. Chittick, GEBE’s CEO stated: With the commitment from the employees, NV GEBE will be moving forward to improving its services to St. Maarten to which we all belong and are also a customer. This company has great potential and only by getting the workers together in harmony will we accomplish our goals. Based on the positive responses from those that participated such a session was organized in the right time and may need to expand to other departments. The Managing Board is committed to each worker within the various departments to excel.
For more information on Training Professionals International Firm (TPI), please visit our website @ Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Call us at 526-2050/2050.

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