PHILIPSBURG:--- The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation has continued to supervise salvage operations in the wider Simpson Bay Lagoon and Oyster Pond areas, with salvage operators, now having salvaged upwards of 400 vessels sunk or badly damaged due to the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Foundation has been cooperating and working with Government, salvagers and marina owners on the systematic removal of shipwrecks in the Lagoon; "After the unfortunate developments right after the hurricanes which caused the salvage of vessels to be stalled things are now running more smoothly. The unfortunate part is that due to some of the vessels being underwater for such a long time some vessels which would have been able to be recovered are now a complete write-off. Something which also concerns us significantly is the disposal of vessels once salvaged. There is now a so-called 'wreck graveyard' in the Simpson Bay Lagoon with vessels waiting to be disposed of. Given that the upcoming hurricane season is just four months away we are asking for an urgent solution to this situation," commented Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Manager.
The Foundation has also been working with Port de Pleasance Marina and St. Maarten Marine Management in coordinating the cleanup activities in certain sections of the Lagoon; "We have been cooperating with Marina Managers, particularly with Sint Maarten Marine Management, in coordinating cleanup activities and liaising with Government and permitting departments. The support of all stakeholders is key in addressing the issues that we continue to face with regards to both the environmental and economic recovery of the Simpson Bay Lagoon," concluded Bervoets.