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Nicolas Maslach Conservationist and Director of the Saint-Martin Nature Reserve

After having been away for three years, during which time I was managing other marine protected areas, and implemented the AGOA sanctuary for marine mammals in the French Antilles, it is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that I return to the Saint-Martin Nature Reserve and its team. And with pride I note the presence of many sea turtles in our waters, better coral cover, a greater abundance of fish, and a greater recovery of mangroves on the banks of certain salt ponds. Proof that it takes a little more than ten years for the positive effects of the introduction of a nature reserve, both terrestrial and marine, to be felt.

Those of you who have been following us since 2001 and have been receiving this newsletter since the first edition, in 2008, can attest to all the environmental actions that the Reserve has initiated over the last 13 years. It’s not an easy task and I thank Romain and the reserve officers (Chris, Franck, Steeve, Julien and Béatrice from the Conservatoire du Littoral) who were able to keep things on track and implement new management perspectives. While some signs are quite positive, others have sounded the alarm for greater intervention on our behalf for more effective management of wetlands and their banks, sea turtles nesting sites, the birds...

Today, our team is growing and our work is organized between several divisions in order to be more efficient in the improvement of our knowledge, the management of our sites, the improvement of the quality of life for the population of Saint-Martin, and our ability to convince the greatest number of people of the legitimacy of our existence and the validity of our actions.

To all our eco-friendly readers, please share this newsletter with your contacts and continue acting on a daily basis to protect the environment of Saint-Martin.

Better Means For Better Missions

Guillaume Arnell, vice-président de la Collectivité, et le préfet Philippe Chopin
Guillaume Arnell, vice-président de la Collectivité, et le préfet Philippe Chopin

The Nature Reserve’s Advisory Committee last met at the Prefecture on April 26th, 2013. The meeting brought together all parties involved in the management of the protected areas, including the State, the Collectivity, Reserve users, scientists... It was the occasion to draw up an accurate assessment of the Nature Reserve’s projects, thanks to the presentation of the 2012 Report of Activities, and give updates on several important issues (read the following articles). The meeting closed with notes of encouragement to the entire reserve team from Harvé Viotty, the President of the Nature Reserve Management Association, and congratulations from the partners for the quality of work performed.

The Collectivity confirms its commitment

At the same Advisory Committee meeting, the Collectivity confirmed the commitment given by Alain Richardson, the former President of the Collectivity, in October 2012, to contribute up to 50,000 euros to the Nature Reserve’s 2013 budget. This promise made for the first time by an elected official shows the Collectivity’s recognition of the benefits of the Reserve’s actions in Saint-Martin.

Pinel Incendie
Fire in Pinel

On March 29th, two days before Easter, a hectare of dry forest on Pinel Island was reduced to a pile of ashes because of an unauthorized barbecue. The efficient intervention from the firefighters helped to limit the damage, but it is really unfortunate that the anonymous culprit did not comply with the ban on lighting fires in the reserve and did not use the fire points installed by guards on the island. A meeting is planned at the Prefecture between the Firefighters and the Reserve Officers to improve their response capacity in the event of a possible fire. The Reserve will strive to educate the public better about fire risks before Easter, traditionally celebrated with camping on beaches. Plus signboards that clearly indicate the ban against lighting fires will be put up on the Reserve’s beaches. The police have opened an investigation into the exact cause of the fire.


The reorganization within the Nature Reserve was presented to the Advisory Committee members.

After having set up the governing body of Mayotte’s Natural Marine Park and put into place the first management steps of the AGOA Sanctuary to protect marine mammals in the French Antilles, Nicolas Maslach returned, on May 26th, to his position as Conservation Director of the Nature Reserve.

With the regular growth in the strength of its missions, Nicolas Maslach wishes to optimize its actions around four key areas of expertise:

  • A Police Division for nature and logistics entrusted to Franck Roncuzzi with the support of the two rangers
  • A Regional Cooperation Division and environmental education managed by Romain Renoux.
  • A Scientific Division led by Julien Chalifour.
  • A Planning and Environmental Engineering Division run by Beatrice Galdi, Project Manager for the Conservatoire du Littoral.

Each division would have the task of optimizing its respective actions and results within the frame of the program defined in the Reserve’s Management Plan.

At the same time a partnership is being set up with the French Marine Protected Areas Agency to create a branch of the AGOA Sanctuary in the Northern Islands, for which representation has be entrusted to Romain Renoux, who will also be responsible for reinforcing CAR-SPAW actions in Saint-Martin.
The Regional Activity Centre implements the protocol signed in 1983 by 37 states and territories relating to zones and to specially protected wildlife in the Caribbean area, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Caribbean Sea.

At the Advisory Committee meeting, Fedmer, a fishermen’s association, brought forward the eventual possibility of bait-and-spinner fishing in the protected waters of the reserve. It was decided to set up a working group for this issue. This group will combine professional fishermen and scientists from the Nature Reserve to study - in the beginning - the methods of implementation of seasonal fishing.

Projet pôle d’excellence en recherche, environnement et écotourisme de Saint-Martin
Nature Reserve’s Head Office Project

Since returning to the position of Director at the reserve, Nicolas Maslach has been working on the realization of the Nature Reserve’s Head Office, a project included in the Management Plan and submitted for approval to the Advisory Committee members. In order to establish the Headquarters at the Reserve, this ambitious program would entail the creation of a center of expertise for research, environment and ecotourism in Saint-Martin. And through this center, our island would acquire skills and knowledge to innovate ecosystem management, create channels for economic development focused on fishing and aquaculture, and implement environmentrelated training programs: eco tour guides on land and at sea, nature police, marine trades, optimization of eco-tourism projects... It will also be necessary to discuss the tools needed to set up partnerships with research centers and universities throughout the Caribbean. This infrastructure will thus improve the scientific knowledge of our natural environment; promote technological innovation for the protection, conservation and sustainable development of our country.

Acropora palmata
Acropora palmata

Even although the Nature Reserve keeps a close watch on Pinel Island; it still remains a highly fragile site.

As it is a very popular spot and relatively near to the coast, it is vulnerable to possible pollution, especially the marine environment.

In order to make an accurate assessment of the seabed around the island, the Nature Reserve gave Aurélien Schmitt the task of mapping out the benthic zones around Pinel, ie: living ground cover on the seabed (coral, sea grass and algae...).

In his second year of Masters for «Expertise and management of the coastal environment» at the Faculty of Brest, he has six months, from March, to fulfill his mission, which is based on three components:

Aurélien Schmitt

  • to create a map of the benthic zones around Pinel
  • assess their condition,
  • indicate all emblematic species on the map, such as Elkhorn coral Acropora palmata.


At the end of the tourist season, the Reserve rangers drew up a rather
negative report on the state of the moorings installed around Pinel,
Tintamare and Créole Rock, some users are not respecting the limits
of resistance even although it is clearly engraved on the buoys, others
cut through the ends with their propeller or even share moorings with
other boats. Eleven of these moorings have become unusable and
require underwater work to repair them. At Pinel, the weight of five
moorings was doubled from 800kgs to 1.6 tons.

Better Knowledge About Protected Areas And Protected Species

Ophioderma cinerea
Ophioderma cinerea

En avril 2012, une mission scientifique annonçait avoir identifié plus de 700 espèces marines dans les eaux de la Réserve, mais ce sont finalement 818 espèces très exactement qui ont pu être décrites à l’issue de cette mission, dont certaines étaient inconnues jusque-là! Jean-Philippe Maréchal, l’un des sept scientifiques de cette mission financée par l’État, a restitué tous les résultats à l’occasion du comité consultatif. Il s’avère que la baie de l’Embouchure – dite baie du Galion – constitue le site possédant la biodiversité la plus importante. Très fréquenté, ce site représente un enjeu majeur pour la Réserve, qui se doit d’y accueillir le public tout en veillant au respect de la protection des espèces. Devant l’ampleur de ces résultats, le comité a demandé à la Réserve d’assurer leur diffusion auprès des gestionnaires d’espaces protégés dans toute la Caraïbe, afin de mettre en avant l’extraordinaire biodiversité de Saint- Martin à l’échelle régionale et les surprises que peut réserver une mission scientifique bien menée. Il a également été décidé que la Réserve devait poursuivre sa stratégie d’inventaire de la faune et de la flore, la mission d’avril 2012 concernant uniquement trois embranchements : les crustacés (crevettes, crabes...), les mollusques (limaces, coquillages...) et les échinodermes (oursins, étoiles de mer, ophiures...).

Ophioderma cinerea
Ophioderma cinerea
Banareia palmeri
Banareia palmeri
Cymbovula acicularis
Cymbovula acicularis
Micromelo undatus
Micromelo undatus
Dauphin Tursiops truncatus
Dauphin Tursiops truncatus

From March 5th to 11th, the Nature Reserve was on the water participating in the third mission of marine mammal monitoring organized by the AGOA sanctuary. Two catamarans hosted teams from Saint-Martin, St. Barts, Anguilla, Saba and St. Eustatius, as well as two experts in marine mammals, one from the US and the other from Canada, stationed on the island of Dominica. The idea of this monitoring is to determine the distribution and abundance of marine mammals in the waters of the Îles du Nord and from the Saba plateau; and the ideal weather conditions resulted in numerous observations. The presence of sperm whales was confirmed, both in the rainy and dry season, many humpback whales were also identified, as well as several dolphin species. These shared missions with other managers of marine protected areas help to strengthen regional cooperation and promote fruitful discussions about each manager’s management practices. Having been a partner since the very beginning, the Saint-Martin Nature Reserve is now positioned as the key referent of the AGOA program in the Îles du Nord in terms of expertise and know-how.

Managing The Impact Of Human Activities In Protected Areas

Le bâtiment au démarrage du chantier de démolition
The building flattened by the end of the first day of demolition

The beach restaurant on Pinel island, “The Key”, has been demolished. This long-awaited demolition is the culmination of several years of litigation. A recap: this restaurant, that was already illegal, built on further extensions by way of a first floor in 2008, without any permission. The establishment refused to comply, unlike its neighbors, and ignored the environmental requirements and the payment of a fee to the Nature Reserve that goes towards the management of the sites. After several attempts to find an amicable solution, the Conservatoire filed a judicial procedure against the establishment’s managing company, in July 2010, for illegal occupation and construction in the public domain. Following this procedure, on March 22nd, 2012, the Administrative Court of Saint-Martin sentenced the managing company to demolish this building. The conviction was upheld at the appeal on November 29th, 2012. As the managing company did not carry out the demolition within the deadline stipulated, the Conservatoire du Littoral was authorized, by two court sentences, to demolish it. And now, as the removal of building material comes to an end, it is time to move on to the retrieval project of this natural space that is going to increase the size of the public beach on Pinel and allow a wider audience to enjoy this beautiful area free of charge. The Reserve plans to plant sea grape trees, and build a shaded picnic area.Pinel fin du premier jour


De gauche à droite : Michel Peltier, directeur adjoint du Conservatoire du Littoral, Guillaume Arnell, vice-président de la Collectivité en charge du Pôle développement durable, Philippe Chopin, préfet de Saint-Martin, Viviane Le Dissez, présidente du Con

espaces protégés Le Journal de la Réserve Naturelle Nationale de Saint-Martin N°18 Juillet 2013 Managing The Impact Of Human Activities In Protected Areas Saint-Martin had the honor of hosting the annual meeting of the Conseil des Rivages Français d’Amérique (CRFA), from April 4th to 6th, 2013. The plenary session was held at the Beach Plaza Hotel and more than 70 attendees were present. Elected officials from Guyana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint-Barthelemy, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and Saint-Martin, met to validate the projects of the Conservatoire du Littoral, and in particular the new perimeters of land intervention. Viviane Le Dissez, President of the Conservatoire du Littoral, Michel Peltier, Deputy Director, Garcin Malsa, President of the CRFA, Marc Duncombe, Overseas Territorial Delegate for the Conservatoire, the Préfet, Philippe Chopin, and Guillaume Arnell, Vice-President of the Collectivity’s Sustainable Development Pôle, each took their turn leading the session. For Saint-Martin, the elected CRFA officials - those being Guillaume Arnell, and Territorial Councilor, Christophe Hénocq - approved the proposed project of expanding the Conservatoire’s perimeters of protection in the area of the Barriére Salt Pond. The Conservatoire wishes to extend its protection to the mangrove areas located north of the pond that are currently unprotected. This validation given at the Conseil des Rivages authorizes the Conservatoire to approach the landowners concerned (in this case, the Collectivity of Saint-Martin, who was approached in May by the Conservatoire regarding this issue).Cul de Sac - Sentier de découverteAgain with regards to this site, the Conservatoire wishes to work in collaboration with the Collectivity on the development of the boundary area between the pond and the sea, and more widely to the dock area of Cul-de-Sac, with the idea of welcoming the numerous visitors for Pinel in a more appreciable environment. Further to this, the inaugural visit of the stilted wooden walkway on the Barriére Salt Pond, recently built by the Conservatoire du Littoral, took place during the CRFA. This trail allows visitors to enter the heart of the mangroves that are home to many bird species. Thanks to the numerous educational signboards posted along the walkway, the secrets of the mangroves no longer remain hidden from visitors. This walkway completes the network of facilities already established by the Conservatoire du Littoral, whereby all the major types of ecosystems on the island are now represented: dry coastal forest on the trail of Froussards, coastline vegetation on Pinel, and seascapes at the Coralita Observatory.

Poisson Lion
Lion Fish

We’ll know very soon if lionfish carry Ciguatera toxin or not. A meeting with fishermen, marine professionals and managers of marine protected areas is already scheduled for July 2013 so that scientific advisors can present their conclusions, and the correct information can then be communicated to the different areas concerned. The spread of this invasive species, this voracious fish without predator, poses a major risk that threatens to decrease fish stocks in the future, as confirmed by the Regional Committee of Maritime Fisheries and Marine Fish Farming (CRPMEM) of Guadeloupe, who met with commercial fishermen, sailors, the Collectivity and the Prefecture on May 15th, 2013.

Saha Widgy, Head of scientific missions at the CRPMEM, informed the fishermen on the history of the invasiveness of this fish proved through various releases into the wild by aquarists of Florida, as well as the biology of the species and the risks it poses, namely a very painful sting and the possible transmission of Ciguatera, to which Chlordecone contamination can be added in Guadeloupe and Martinique.
The CRPMEM gave fishermen an information sheet on what to do in the presence of lionfish, and a pair of protective gloves against the sting of its fins. In order to educate the entire public and fight against this invasion, the Nature Reserve plans to hold a fishing tournament before the end of the year.

Saisie de Casiers
Saisie de Casiers

Le 28 février

les gardes de la Réserve naturelle ont dressé un procès-verbal au titre de la loi sur l’eau à un hôtel pour une pollution et un déversement d’eaux usées dans le Grand étang des Terres Basses. Cette pollution est due à un dysfonctionnement du réseau d’assainissement de l’hôtel, resté sans solution depuis plusieurs années.

Le 9 Mars

À l’Est de l’îlet Pinel, le 9 mars, deux pêcheurs armés de fusils harpons ont dû remettre leur équipement aux gardes de la Réserve, la pêche étant interdite sur cet espace protégé, comme d’ailleurs sur tout le territoire de la Réserve.

le 20 Mars

Le 20 mars, à Pinel, les gardes ont ordonné l’arrêt de la construction d’une station d’épuration privée. Ces travaux avaient lieu sans autorisation, sur le territoire du Conservatoire du littoral.


Un filet de 100 mètres signalé par un témoin a été retiré et saisi par les gardes dans la baie de l’Embouchure, en plein coeur de la Réserve naturelle, le 15 juin. Trois jours plus tard, les mêmes gardes ont constaté la présence de deux casiers pleins de poissons entre Petite Clé et la côte, à Cul-de-Sac. Les casiers ont été saisis et les poissons remis en liberté.

Pollution Grand Etang Terres BassesPinel Arrêt de la construction d'une centrale d'épurationFilets au Galion

Restoration Of Degraded Areas And Populations

Pollution Etang de Chevrise
Etang de Chevrise Pollution

The unfortunate salt pond in Chevrise had just withstood a proliferation of green algae due to previous
pollution, when it then had to deal with a fresh sewage spill during the long weekend of May
8th. The leak came from an overflowing sewage pipe from a private network along the road to Mont
Vernon. Alerted by , the Reserve and the Conservatoire du Littoral, immediately gave formal notice to
the managing syndicate of the development and the reserve guards made sure the repair was done
quickly. The leak was stopped, but serious vigilance is still to be taken around this wet area that has
already been weakened several times in the past.

Rodent eradication
Rodent eradication

211 rats and 79 mice were trapped during a capturing campaign lasting about 2 weeks on the islands of Tintamare, Pinel, Green Cay and Creole Rock. 200 traps were baited with harmless peanut butter and rolled oats, so as not to kill other species other than these rodents. This management campaign for small mammals took place from March 4th to 14th, 2013 and will be carried out again next year at the same time, just before egg-laying season. It was organized by the Reserve, along with the support of three researchers from the National Institute of Agronomy Research (INRA) and the National Museum of Natural History, as well as an intern in his 2nd year of Masters at the University of Antilles- Guyane. Introduced onto the islands, these rodents who just love birds’ and turtles’ eggs, pose a threat to the reproduction of the Brown Noddy and Tropicbirds and they also attack Gaiac trees by devouring its seeds. The objective of this campaign and conservation of these classified natural areas was to complete the inventory of the species present on the islands, initiated in 2010, and also to reduce pest populations. Further analysis will allow a better understanding of the two target species - genetic characteristics, reproductive cycles - and thus better identify their impact on the Reserve.

The Tintamare rat and the Pinel rat

As in La Fontaine’s fable, the difference between the Tintamare rat and the Pinel rat are their waistlines. Restaurants and visiting tourists ensure daily rations for the rodents on Pinel, while their brothers on Tintamare fight over a sliver of a sandwich. It is therefore paramount on each island to make sure that no food waste is left at the end of the day, and that everyone takes their garbage home. Any food supply is a godsend for these rodents, who tend to proliferate in the vicinity of the sites most frequented by the public and may represent a health risk - parasites and infectious diseases, and an environmental risk - attack on sensitive animal populations and plants. More than ever, enjoy the natural areas of the reserve, but be careful not to leave anything behind nor take anything (except your garbage!) from a protected area.

Green Turtle
Green Turtle

Nicolas Maslach, the Reserve’s Conservationist, accompanied by Julien Chalifour, Head of the Scientific Department, participated in a video conference in Guadeloupe, with the Ministry of Environment. The agenda was dedicated to the progress of the National Plan for the restoration of marine turtles, and to its actions. The conference was held in the presence of DEAL Guadeloupe (Environmental Management Body) and the National Office for Hunting and Wild Fauna (ONCFS), who are responsible for monitoring this plan in Guadeloupe. On the other side of the Atlantic, in their office in La Defense, near to Paris, a representative of the Ministry and marine turtle specialists listened to Eric Delcroix, Project Manager of marine turtles for ONCFS Guadeloupe, who explained that the plan at present has been 50% completed. It includes raising awareness of the public, police actions to control and fight against poaching, the promotion of alternative fishing techniques to limit unwanted turtle captures, efforts to involve fishermen in the implementation of the plan, media publication of information, and finally monitoring stranded turtles in trouble (see article following page). Monitoring the quality of the sites is part of the plan and takes into account the environmental condition of the site; if vehicles are traveling near it or not, if there are spotlights, if the upper beach has vegetation... For Saint-Martin, our representatives explained the difficulties particular to our island, such as the sustainability of the Eco Volunteers Network, composed largely of teachers who leave for other destinations at the end of their three or four year contract. Also, health care for injured animals is sorely lacking, just as the administrative complications for species with an endangered status make it almost impossible to transport an injured turtle to Guadeloupe. A request for technical and financial assistance has been put forward in the form of setting up a primary health care center in Saint-Martin, with a local point of veterinary assistance. This establishment would allow a recovered animal a place in captivity to receive an initial diagnosis, to stabilize its condition, and then to decide on whether or not to send it to Guadeloupe, or to release it at sea, possibly after a period of care.

Killed by a boat propeller

On March 20th, 2013, an injured Green Turtle was rescued in Marigot by the Reserve team and Claire Saladin, veterinarian, thanks to the vigilance of passersby and employees at the Marina Fort Louis. This juvenile turtle - under 25 years old - showed signs of a violent collision with two boat propellers. Its fractured left shell revealed a gaping wound on its back. Despite the care provided by the mobilized team, «Marigot» was to die from a cardiac arrest the following week. The accident meant she would never get to reproduce, and this loss is invaluable when you know that less than one egg in a thousand, for these endangered reptiles, reach 25 years old, the age when a turtle has its first chance to reproduce and come and nest on our beaches.

Speed limited, turtles protected

The presence of marine turtles on the coastline and the development of boating in Saint-Martin are certainly not without risks. Although these reptiles are aquatic they have lungs, which require them to frequently come to the surface to breathe. This is where they are most vulnerable to the risk of collisions. Reducing speed near the coast will guarantee the safety of the vessel, other users, and also many animals that frequent our shores: whales, dolphins, birds and turtles. The regulation is very clear: in the 300m band, the speed of any engine is limited to 5 knots, about 9 km/h. Three species of sea turtles live in the waters of Saint-Martin. Green Turtles, Hawksbill and Leatherback Turtles all feed here and breed annually from March to October.

When in a collision or if you see a dead or injured animal, please immediately call the Saint- Martin Nature Reserve (05 90 29 09 72 / 06 90 34 77 10), head of the local network for stranded sea turtles, so that action can be taken. No legal proceedings will be taken against those responsible for the collision, so there is no excuse for not reporting the accident. Do not try to move the animal. Remember to provide key information: number of animals, precise location, time of the last observation, movement or lack thereof, visible lesions or not, and contact information for further details if necessary. Every report could help save a turtle.


Environmental Communication And Education

Sortie en mer pour le parquet et la gendarmerie
The Prosecutors and the Gendarmerie out on a boat trip

The new Commander of the Gendarmerie, Paul
Bétaille, the Public Prosecutor, Flavien Noailles,
and the Public Prosecutor’s Delegate, Daniel Vigoulette,
were taken out by the Reserve in their
boat, the Contender, to visit Creole Rock, Pinel
and Tintamare; a discovery trip organized specifically
for them. This boat trip out into the field
has given them a clearer image on issues of procedure
and has left them with a better understanding
of the context in which certain offenses
occur. It was also an opportunity to highlight the
excellent cooperation between the Reserve and
the Gendarmerie’s Water Brigade, as well as the
availability of government services that support
the reserve in their missions every day.

Panneau anti-uv
UV resistant signboards

The tropical sun has the unfortunate tendency to deteriorate exterior signboards, making
them illegible in three or four years. There have also been several acts of vandalism
on existing signboards. This however, won’t be the case for the educational
signboards recently put up by the Conservatoire du littoral on Pinel, at Coralita and
along the trail of Froussards, nor those erected around the Barriére Salt Pond. They
are made from a UV-resistant material (layered digital printing), and are more resistant
to degradation, their only downfall is their expense. Considering, however, that the investment
is worth it in the long term, the Conservatoire has financed the replacement
of the signs that have already been erected on other reserve sites by the guards.

Sortie 17/05/2013
Collège Soualiga on the stilted walkway

Field trips are organized throughout the year and always end up a huge success with the youth.

  • On February 1st, a Guadeloupian BTS Tourism class took advantage of their trip to Saint- Martin to follow the Pinel trail, along with rangers of course.
  • On February 19th, a class from the primary school in Grand-Case lent a hand to the Reserve team to clean up Grandes Cayes beach.
  • The island of Pinel and its trail were visited by a class from the Collège Quartier d’Orleans on April 9th, then a class from Collège Mont des Accords on April 15th.
  • On May 14th, eleven adults on a training course for «internet network», at the Fore IDN training center, went to Pinel as part of the environmental unit included in their training program.
  • On May 17th, students from a ‘classe relais’ from Collège Soualiga were the first students to inaugurate the new stilted walkway at the Barrière salt pond, where they were very interested to discover the mangroves and the birds that inhabit them.

A BTS Tourism class at PinelCollège Mont des Accords at Pinel

Caraibes Magazine
Caraibes Magazine

Congratulations to Îles Caraïbes Magazine

In the latest edition of Îles Caraïbes Magazine, the Nature Reserve was the subject of an excellent article written by Aurélien Brusini, who is also the photographer of some beautiful pictures that put the fauna and flora of this protected area in real value.

The birds are in Zing

Birds from the Reserve and the salt ponds in Sa int-Ma rtin are in Zing, the in-flight magazine for LIAT. Zing Magazine


Reinforcement On A Regional

Les participants aux journées d’échange sur le tourisme durable
Les participants aux journées d’échange sur le tourisme durable

Thirty million tourists visit the Caribbean each year. Two million of them choose Saint-Martin, where the tourism industry comes first, and they have estimated that 400,000 visit the Nature Reserve. On these fragile sites, often under threat, how can they welcome visitors without destroying sites? Consequently, sustainable tourism was the subject discussed in great depth, from June 12th to 14th at the Mercure Hotel in Saint-Martin, where TE ME UM and CAR-SPAW had invited area managers of marine protected areas. As co-organizer of the event, the Saint-Martin Nature Reserve was there around the table with the Marine Parks of Anguilla and St. Eustatius, the National Park of Guadeloupe, the Petite-Terre Nature Reserve in Guadeloupe, the Martinique branch of the Conservatoire du Littoral and Martinique’s DEAL, as well as Reunion’s Marine Nature Reserve, in the Indian Ocean. Regulations and welcoming of visitors onto sites, the various partnerships established with tour operators in each territory, marketing and product development, charters and eco-labels, were the four topics around which managers held discussions, arguments and debates. Everyone came with their experiences and questions, keen to learn from the others, the goal being to improve management practices along the lines of what exists elsewhere. For example, the Nature Reserve in Petite-Terre, Guadeloupe, was greatly inspired by the mooring fee initially set up by the Saint- Martin Reserve, that is successful thanks to a trust partnership held with the users. A bilingual report of experiences is being put together to share the content of these meetings with other managers of protected natural sites.

TE ME UM and CAR-SPAW, what are they?

  • The specific objective of TE ME UM is to strengthen the capacity of managers of protected natural sites in the overseas territories, at a local level with each Collectivity and also regionally via networking to facilitate exchanges, as with the three days of technical discussions about sustainable tourism.
  • Based in Guadeloupe and funded by the French State, CAR-SPAW (Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife) Regional Activity Center for specially protected species and areas in the Caribbean, implements the SPAW protocol related to the protection of marine and coastal biodiversity within the wider Caribbean region, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Caribbean Sea. This protocol to date includes 16 countries in the region.
Les touristes découvrent l’espace protégé de Pinel grâce à ce panneau
The tourists learn about Pinel’s protected site thanks to this panel



The annual conference for all French Nature Reserves was held April 15th to 20th, 2013, in Louan, near to Provins. Saint-Martin’s reserve was represented by Romain Renoux, accompanied by Julien Chalifour, Head of the Scientific Division, and Franck Roncuzzi, Head of the Nature Police Division. Like all other overseas territory reserves, which together make up the greatest ecological richness of France, Saint-Martin’s reserve presented their missions and activities performed. The presence of the reserve during these annual meetings is essential to consolidate and defend their budgets that seem to have taken a knock within the difficult national budgetary context. Guest speaker, the philosopher, Alain Cugno, developed the paradox of small and large within the context of marine protected areas: small areas and small budgets for small teams, but major challenges, as it entails the conservation of the life and the biodiversity of these territories. Romain Renoux, a member of the Overseas Territories Committee, noted that a growing number of reserves are fulfilling their role of support and advice to the Collectivity with regards to the planning and development of their territory, and confirms that Saint-Martin’s reserve is part of this dynamic. Julien Chalifour was appointed to the Scientific Committee for French reserves, where he is the only representative of the Overseas Territories. Franck Roncuzzi, Overseas Territory referent in the police group of the Staff Committee, will assist in the development of the document on health issues at work in November 2013, in Paris. This document, required by the Ministry of Ecology, regulates the conditions of work and will be in force in all French reserves by 2014./p>

De gauche à droite : Soraya Issop Mamode, Béatrice Galdi (chargée de mission du Conservatoire du littoral), Yannick Clain et Julien Chalifour (RNN Saint-Martin)
De gauche à droite : Soraya Issop Mamode, Béatrice Galdi (chargée de mission du Conservatoire du littoral), Yannick Clain et Julien Chalifour (RNN Saint-Martin)

The workers guild between managers of protected natural sites allows these professionals to share their practices, to benefit from the experience of others and to help others benefit from their own experience. Thus, Soraya Issop Mamode, Director of GIP - management body of Reunion’s National Marine Nature Reserve in the Indian Ocean - and Yanick Clain, Head of the Reserve’s Police and Surveillance Unit, were welcomed by the Saint-Martin Nature Reserve for one week in early June 2013, after having spent the previous week in two of Guadeloupe’s reserves; Petite-Terre and Désirade. Management of marine protected areas was the focal point during these exchanges, as well as the protocols put in place to ensure that reserve visitors comply with regulations. Reunion’s Director was greatly interested in the maritime passenger levy applied in Saint-Martin, and in Petite-Terre, as during these times of fiscal restraint they too are trying to increase the share of self-financing in their annual budget. In turn, Reunion’s reserve was approved to provide vocational training in 2011, allowing it to offer training courses on coral reefs, the marine zones in Reunion or the coastline along the west coast of the island, to people interested in doing these courses within a professional context. In 2012, all of Reunion’s Investigating Commissioners went on training courses, and in 2013, lookouts from associations and surfing leagues, responsible for shark risk prevention surveillance, were trained up by the Reserve. Several towns are now interested in this training course related to shark risks.

Le cap Homard, La Réunion © B. CauvinLe cap Homard, La Réunion © B. Cauvin

Spread out over 3,500 hectares and five municipalities, Reunion’s Marine Reserve is surrounded by 40 kilometers of coastline and employs 15 staff members. 3,500 fauna and flora species have been recorded, and the recording continues! The Reserve works with a budget of 1.02M€, which is proportional to its functions and existing equipment, co-financed by the State, the Region, the Department and the five municipalities. It is home to 40 surfing spots, 58 diving sites, a range of water sports (kayaking, stand-up paddle...), sea excursion operators and fishermen, fishing is allowed there, but it is closely regulated. By comparison, Saint-Martin’s Reserve covers 3,060 hectares, of which 2,907 hectares are at sea, it employs 7 people and worked with a budget of 420,000€ in 2012, 63% State financed, and 35% self-financed.


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