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Philippe Chopin
Philippe Chopin

Préfet délégué de Saint-Barthélemy et de Saint-Martin

Saint-Martin has an exceptional natural heritage..
The Nature Reserve and the Conservatoire du Littoral (Coastal Conservancy) protect these natural areas for us.
Beyond the protection of our biodiversity, they also guarantee our quality of life and maintain the beauty of the island as a tourist destination. Preserving these areas is a major challenge for our country.

Founded in 1998 by ministerial decree, the Nature Reserve is primarily financed by the State and I am particularly attentive in following their actions.
Twice a year, I have the honor of chairing the Advisory Committee of the Nature Reserve which brings together more than 35 people; politicians, social and occupational professionals, service users, scientists, and administrative staff to discuss its actions and policies in a common desire to maintain this heritage for future generations..

This Nature Reserve is yours, ours, and through this Newsletter we wish to share their latest news with you.
Enjoy your reading!

Advisory Committee

The members of the Advisory Committee met at the Prefecture on October 26th, 2012, and voted on four important elements for the Nature Reserve.

To begin the session, Alain Richardson, President of the Collectivity, confirmed his support for the actions carried out by the Reserve and announced the Collectivity’s financial support towards the Nature Reserve’s 2013 budget. A first! Since its creation in 1998, neither the municipality nor the Collectivity have ever offered any financial support to the Reserve. The Committee thanked the President for this action, as well as the ongoing recognition of the acts carried out by the Reserve.

Already listed under the Ramsar Convention in conformance with its salt ponds, the Saint-Martin Nature Reserve has recently been recognized by the Cartagena Convention on two counts, firstly with respect to its rich biodiversity on a regional scale within the Caribbean, and secondly for the quality of effort it undertakes to preserve the environment. The Reserve thus figures as one in amongst eighteen protected marine areas in the Caribbean, having priority to support materials and funding.

The Bay of the Embouchure’s Users Committee will soon be seeing the light of day. Made up of the District Council, the Prefecture, the Collectivity, Maritime Affairs, schools, the Association Tropikite, the Association Métimer and the tourism representatives that appear on the Nature Reserves’ website, this committee will offer advice to the Advisory Committee on the various activities that are practiced on the site - swimming, swimming lessons, horseback riding, water sports, surfing ... - and their compatibility with respect to the natural environment, and also the users of this site.

It was decided to create a working group to define the criteria and procedures of bait fishing within the Reserve. As even although the decree written at the time of the creation of the Nature Reserve states the possibility of this type of fishing by commercial fishermen, it gives no precisions as to how this activity could be practiced. So it will be up to the professional fishermen from Saint-Martin, the Guadeloupe Fisheries Committee, Maritime Affairs, the Prefecture and the Nature Reserve to come up with the modalities for seasonal fishing.

Rapport Comité Consulatif de la Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin - 2012

The Advisory Committee What is it ?

composed of 35 members and chaired by the Préfet, the advisory committee follows the actions carried out by the nature Reserve and provides advice on the way it is run. What with the need to discuss matters, in 2012, Préfet chopin initiated the convention of the committee for meetings twice a year. on october 26th, the importance of the Reserve’s actions pertaining to environmental education was mentioned and its substantial capacity for self-financing - 15% of its annual budget - through the maritime passenger fee, was highlighted.


Better Knowledge About Protected Areas And Protected Species

Suivi des mammifères marins : les observations sont visuelles... et acoustiques
Monitoring of marine mammals: sightings are visual... and acoustic

The second marine mammals research survey


Le rapport annuel est en cours de préparation.

The Agoa sanctuary for the protection and conservation of marine mammals in the waters of the French West Indies conducted its second scientific survey of these mammals, however, this time in the wet season, from October 2nd to 7th, 2012.
In this season, the Humpback whales have migrated to the cooler waters of the North Atlantic for the summer.
For the Northern Islands, two catamarans were used by observers from the Nature Reserves of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barths; from the Marine Parks of Sint Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius; from the Marine Protected Areas Agency; from Breach and CAR-SPAW, as well as a team of Dutch researchers. Not surprisingly, there were fewer observations than in March 2012 in the same areas.
One of the boats covered the waters between Saint-Martin, St. Barths and Anguilla, and the other was devoted to the area between St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, Saba and the Saba Bank.
The annual report is being prepared.

Monitoring of marine mammals


Tortue imbriquée cherchant à nidifier en haut de plage à baie aux Prunes
Tortue imbriquée cherchant à nidifier en haut de plage à baie aux Prunes

The end of December 2012, was report writing time for Julien Chalifour, who is in charge of the local branch of the sea turtle network.


529 patrols took place on ten designated beaches and
185 tracks of turtles crawling up onto the beaches were identified by the fifty eco-volunteers,
of which 107 were fresh tracks.
58% Of these tracks resulted in the laying of eggs, mainly by Green turtles and especially on the beaches of Baie Longue and Baie aux Prune.

These figures, which are significantly higher than those of 2011, could perhaps be explained by the fact that the turtles were observed in a completely empirical way and it has been deduced that the nesting cycle of Green turtles normally experiences a peak every two years.
These Green turtles managed to lay eggs on 65% of their ascents up the beach, whilst the Hawksbill turtles only managed to lay on 55% of their exits from the water.
This difference could be due to the specificities of the two species;
Green turtles do not mount as high up onto the beach as the Hawksbill and therefore come across fewer obstacles before they dig their nests.

The Reserve notes, however, a slight decline in the Green turtles nesting and raises again the issue of beaches lit at night and loud music, which frighten these creatures away.

A turtle knocking at the gateTortue imbriquée

On september 4th, 2012 at 11 o’clock in the morning, a couple of bathers called the Reserve to report that a hawksbill turtle was trying to dig her nest, but kept coming up against the fence and the gate of a villa that had been built very close to the sea. Julien chalifour arrived on the scene and found that this was indeed the case; the poor animal was turning around and around in circles and then in vain it finally returned to the sea after an hour and a half of fruitless efforts.
The next day, some distance from the villa, an eco-volunteer discovered nesting tracks and a nest, we hope that they belonged to the same turtle.
The Reserve took the opportunity to thank all eco-volunteers and all walkers who call-in to report the presence of turtles. the 2013 campaign will begin soon. an information session will be held for eco-volunteers in february.


Canard des Bahamas
Canard des Bahamas

The beginning of the year, for Julien Chalifour, in charge of the Scientific Department at the Nature Reserve, signals the time to take stock of the monitoring that has been carried out on shorebirds – dependent on the salt ponds - and seabirds.


The same protocol was followed throughout the year, a monthly visit was taken to the ten salt ponds on the island.
Sixty species of shorebirds have been observed (with binoculars) and counted, as well as some seabird species, like the Pelican, who also frequent the ponds.
These observations are intended to note the monthly fluctuations of the attendance of the birds depending on the species. In 2012, six species were monitored particularly closely, either because they are part of the island’s heritage - protected, threatened or rare - or because they nest here in Saint-Martin.
These being the Purple Heron, the Black-necked Stilt from America, the Caribbean Coot, the Great Egret, the Little Tern and the White-cheeked Pintail (the Bahama Duck). A scientific report is currently being drafted.


The main target species were Tropicbirds, Brown Noddys and Little Terns.

Disappointment concerning the Tropicbirds: only ten individuals were observed on average during the nesting period on Tintamare, which is the only time these beautiful birds do not live on the high seas.
It is a significant regression from 2010, although it remains to be confirmed if the change in protocol was not the cause of this decline.
This having been said, it is without a doubt that the prohibition to anchor off North Cove on Tintamare is justified more than ever in order to respect the tranquility of birds.

Remaining on Tintamare: the numbers of Brown Noddys, on the other hand, proved stable.
Thirtyeight individuals on average were present at each count and thirty-seven nests were reported, of which three-quarters held chicks, who have since taken flight to other places.

In 2012 the Little Terns were monitored mainly from May to September.
They like to frequent the Great Pond in Terres Basses (which falls outside of the Reserve) where a dozen birds were recorded at each counting. Twenty individuals were observed overall in all the salt ponds, but the species also frequents rocky outcrops that lie outside the territory of the Reserve.
The Little Tern nests on sandbars and unfortunately no nests were spotted - and no chicks - probably because of the significant changes in the water levels of the salt ponds.

Managing The Impact Of Human Activities In Protected Areas

Tommy Vallon
Tommy Vallon

A threat to the biodiversity

Tommy Vallon, an intern at the Nature Reserve, has the mission of managing the problem of rodents that were introduced onto Tintamare.
Fond of eggs, whether it’s birds eggs or turtles eggs, these mammals threaten the reproduction of the Brown Noddy, the Tropicbirds and sea turtles - all of which are heritage species.
This problem originates from a rat species and mouse species and our intern is going to initially trap these rodents, without killing them, in order to identify them.
This first step will likely be followed by the control of these species, following a well-defined strategy. 24 Year old, Tommy Vallon is a student at the University of Antilles-Guyane and is undertaking his end of studies internship in Saint-Martin as part of his Professional Masters in Tropical Ecology.

The left-overs from picnics are a source of food for these rodents. Make sure that you take all your waste home with you!
20 kilos of fish and a weighing scale seized

A weighing scale and twenty pounds of fish were seized by the Nature Reserve’s field rangers, in the parking lot of the whale observatory in Coralita, on November 23rd, 2012.
That day, two rangers on patrol noticed four individuals who had just come out of the water and were equipped with spear guns and carrying bags.
Upon verification, two of these novice fishermen were already known to the Reserve and had already been brought before the criminal court following the booking for illegal fishing in the Nature Reserve.
About twenty pounds of fish had already been weighed and was packaged in plastic bags, ready for sale.
Four official statements were taken down and four fishermen will as a result appear before the criminal court.

Restoration Of Degraded Areas And Populations

Ecole Elie Gibs au Galion

40 bags of 200 liters filled with garbage from the sea… that was the result of the beach cleanup at Galion!
It was organized by the Prevention of Youth Delinquency Brigade (BPDJ) together with two classes from Elie Gibbs School in Grand Case, one from CE1 and the other from CM1 along with their teachers.
Thanks to gifts donated by some sponsors, the two gendarmes from the BPDJ organized the operation into a form of competition whereby the 47 children were grouped into teams of six and combed the coastline clean.
Only the section of the beach belonging to the Conservatoire du littoral (Coastal Conservancy) and classed as part of the Nature Reserve was concerned, that being the area after the Surf Club and up to the whale observatory in Coralita (the wildest part of the beach).
A reminder: The Conservatoire du littoral is in the process of acquiring other parcels of land; ones that have already been assigned to it through a process of expropriation.

Antitheft anchorages off Pinel Island

At Pinel, to avoid recurring theft of mooring buoys, rangers from the Nature Reserve replaced the leading strings from the mooring buoys with 12mm chain.
In addition, three mooring buoys at Creole Rock and four at Tintamare were temporarily withdrawn, as the chemically sealed ring on the moorings require underwater repairs to ensure security.


Better Means For Better Missions

Claire Bissery - Biostatistician at the Ifremer in Brest
Claire Bissery - Biostatistician at the Ifremer in Brest

A statistics toolbox for better management

Since the launch of the project PAMPA, the Saint-Martin Nature Reserve has been part of ten pilot sites to have the permission to develop this tool between 2008 and 2011, with the support of the French Initiative for Coral Reefs (Ifrecor).
PAMPA’s main objective was to develop performance indicators of the marine protected areas within the French overseas territories, in order to provide the management bodies with software that would enable them to improve the treatment of all scientific data collected according to their Management Plan.
On December 14th, 2012, Claire Bissery, a biostatistician at the Ifremer in Brest and a permanent follower of the project, came to return the results of this work to the Management Team and Board of Directors.
With the new software, the Reserve is able to account for the progress of various tasks included in its Management Plan.

Environmental Communication And Education

Carpenters at work on the trail © Conservatoire du Littoral

The construction of the boardwalk discovery trail at the Barrière salt pond in Cul-de-Sac that was started in September 2012, is now open to the public.
This stilted wooden trail will allow the public to explore the mangroves and discover the fascinating ecosystem that is dominated by the mangroves; it is also a favorite spot for many birds.
The layout has been adapted to minimize the impact of the construction on the many birds that frequent this sensitive wetland. It also takes into account the comments from the Regional Scientific Council of Natural Heritage (CSRPN). Educational signage with information on the pond, mangroves and associated fauna are currently being made.
The purpose of this trail is both educational and touristic.
The entrance is not far from the pier to Pinel Island. Developed by the Conservatoire du Littoral (Coastal Conservancy), financed with funds from the State and Europe, the trail will officially be opened at the Conseil des Rivages Français d’Amérique (Committee meeting of the French shores of America) – an annual meeting of the Conservatoire du Littoral for the French Antilles, Guyana and Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
This meeting will be held in April 2013, in Saint-Martin.

Point de vue sur la mangrove et les échasses d’Amérique © Conservatoire du littoral

All about the CRFA

Brings together elected members from saint-martin, st. barths, guadeloupe, martinique, guyana and saint Pierre and miquelon.
The invested interest that the elected officials have in safeguarding their environment is up to their extent of involvement in the CRFA: a hundred of them will participate in the next CRFA to be held in saint-martin in april 2013.
They will validate the program and new scopes of land intervention for the conservatoire du littoral before submission to the board of Directors of the conservatoire.


Un nouveau site internet pour la Réserve
Un nouveau site internet pour la Réserve

Finally, the Saint Martin Nature Reserve has an actual website.
An absolute must to see, go to
Attractive and informative, the site is in French and English and is a great showcase for the tourism industry on an international level.
It also enables the Reserve to raise awareness of their actions and highlight the Reserve’s local tour operator partners.
All scientific documents put together by the Reserve are available online, as well as the Management Plan, a review of press releases, archives of the Reserve’s Newsletters and Annual Activity Reports.Site de la Réserve

Signing of the agreement between Mr. Arlhac and Romain Renoux © St Martin’s Week
Signing of the agreement between Mr. Arlhac and Romain Renoux © St Martin’s Week

After the junior high school in Quartiers d’Orléans and the senior high school, Lycée des Iles du Nord, it was the junior high school:
Collége Soualiga’s, time to sign a partnership agreement with the Nature Reserve.
The signing between the principal, Mr. Arlhac and Romain Renoux, Director of the Reserve, took place on November 27th, 2012.
This agreement is part of the mission for environmental education which brings matters back to the Reserve and is based on five major points:

The organization of conferences at the Collége by representatives of the Reserve.

Students to be accompanied on educational field trips, both on land and at sea, taken within the territories of the Reserve and the Conservatoire du Littoral. 

Student participation in school projects for ecological restoration of habitats, as well as cleaning up of sites. 

Participation of one class towards writing articles for the Reserve’s Newsletter.

Assistance from the Reserve at the swimming area in Galion, in collaboration with the PE teachers.

The first conference was chaired by Romain Renoux on December 21st, and since then the teachers at the junior high know everything there is to know with regards to the role of the Nature Reserve and issues relating to environmental protection on its territory.

Reinforcement On A Regional

Coast guards in front of Diamond Rock © Nicolas Boulard
Coast guards in front of Diamond Rock © Nicolas Boulard

240 guards on the shores of France

From the 9th to the 10th of October 2012, Steeve Ruillet joined the 240 coastal guards that are invited every three years to the National Forum of coast guards at Langueux (not far from Saint-Brieuc).
This meeting, organized by the Conservatoire du Littoral and the Rivages Français, is held to discuss the theme of the job of a coast guard and its evolution over the last ten years.
«These exchanges between guards from the mainland and from the overseas territories make us realize that, despite the specificity of our islands, the problems are much the same,» he said.

The Reserve and the Collectivity together in Martinique

In December the Head Ranger, Franck Roncuzzi, and field ranger, Christophe Joe, attended the second interregional meeting of coast guards of the Rivages Français d’Amérique, in Martinique.
This meeting is organized every three years by the Conservatoire du Littoral and the Rivages de France, the national association of administrators of coastlines and lakes.
Franck Roncuzzi and Christophe Joe spoke about the different missions they face on a daily basis whilst exercising their profession.
Saint-Martin was also represented by Michel Hamlet, an officer of the Territorial Brigade of the environment and a coast guard.
He earned this title of coast guard after attending a training program that was offered by the Conservatoire du Littoral for two agents of the Collectivity.
«This meeting that gathered all the ultramarine guards has been very successful and has strengthened our sense of belonging to the same network,» commented Franck and Christophe.

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