Respecting the regulations and make sure the human activities allowed are compatible with the goals of the Réserve

Respecting the regulations and make sure the human activities allowed are compatible with the goals of the Réserve

Respecting the regulations and make sure the human activities allowed are compatible with the goals of the Réserve

Bienvenue au commandant de gendarmerie
Bienvenue au commandant de gendarmerie

The staff at the Réserve Naturelle met with Stéphan Basso, the new commandant at the gendarmerie, who arrived on the island on August 1, replacing Sébastien Manzoni. The brigade chief voiced his interest in the various missions assigned to the rangers and assured the Réserve that it can count on the support of the gendarmerie, especially in the identification of scofflaws. Basso also invited the Réserve to be present when the next group of mobile gendarmes arrives on November 6, and to make a 30-minute presentation at that time, to best inform the new arrivals about the challenges encountered at the sites that are officially part of the Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin.

Since November 23, 2019, the Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin has been attending police meetings at the prefecture once a month, at the request of the prefect Sylvie Feucher. The police activity report for the Réserve is presented at these meetings. To date, since the beginning of the year, the Réserve police have accomplished 60 controls at sea that were in compliance and eight that were not, as well as 237 terrestrial controls in compliance and 17 that were not. For the most part, the infractions to regulations are minor, such as anchoring in a sea plant bed, use of a quad, dogs on the loose, or kite surfing at Galion.

Palais de Justice de st.Martin

La Réserve Naturelle was a plaintiff in a civil suit concerning illegal fishing, with Franck Roncuzzi, director of the technical department of the nature police representing the Réserve as its legal entitity. The case dates back to May 14, 2019, when a patrol from the gendarmerie found a fisherman on the beach in Grandes Cayes, right in the middle of the Réserve Naturelle. Inside the fisherman’s car, they seized two lobsters, a slipper lobster, two fish, and an underwater spear gun. Judged for maritime fishing in a prohibited zone and leisure fishing without marking his presence by a buoy, two infractions worth fines up to 9000 and 1500 euros respectively, the fisherman was condemned to pay 500 and 250 in fines, as well as 2500 euros in damages and interest to the Réserve naturelle.

The Minister of Ecology has published a directive recommending that managers of natural sites to bring an independent action for damages in cases that infringe on the environment, so that the guilty parties participate financially in the compensation of loss to the biodiversity for which they are responsible.
Pas de kite surf au Galion - No kite surf in Galion
Pas de kite surf au Galion - No kite surf in Galion

Since January 1, 2019, the police of Réserve Naturelle have completed 153 patrols on land, of which 141 were in keeping with the regulations, as were 35 of the 39 patrols done at sea. The only reprimand was addressed to the president of the Tropikite association on April 14, when a group of kite surfers assembled on the beach in Galion, in spite of an order from the prefect prohibiting the sport at this protected site. A first such assembly was given the same warning, and the person incriminated was interviewed by the gendarmerie, which sent the report to the prosecutor’s office. Please note that kite surfing is authorized throughout the Réserve Naturelle except over the waters of Galion bay, which is a site set aside for family activities, swimming, and nautical activities that do not present a danger for those using the site.

Residents notified the Réserve Naturelle when they saw a horse on the land at Babit Point— land that belongs to the Conservatoire du Littoral and is managed by the Réserve. The veterinary services went to see about the horse, accompanied by agents of the Réserve and territorial police. Brought to the site by its owner, a resident of Oyster Pond, the animal had been left in an enclosure made of rebar and barbed wire, in the full sun, close to a shelter without a roof implanted illegally by its master. Present during the control, the owner was informed that he was using land belonging to the Conservatoire du Littoral without authorization. He explained that he had to quickly remove his horse from its previous quarters, and that he planned to move it again soon, but not sooner than two months. He was told he had a short window to contact the owner and request temporary use of the site—otherwise the horse must be removed. He opted to move his horse to private land that had the same conditions, but leaving behind the enclosure and the shelter. Existing regulations forbid leaving equines in the open air without providing the proper facilities to avoid any suffering in case of climatic variations. It is also illegal to place animal or vegetal species on a protected natural site.

A lot of criticism has been directed at the Réserve Naturelle, claiming “they aren’t doing anything,” when it comes to the container sitting on the side of the Coralita road, in the parking lot for the whale observatory. However, the container is sitting on private land and the Réserve is not authorized to act. The Operations Committee of the Environmental and Urbanism Police (COPOLENU) discussed the issue at great length to rule on the jurisdiction of the Collectivity in this matter. The Collectivity then sent a letter to the owner of the property. Stay tuned for the end of the story.

Called by the CROSS Antilles Guyana on February 15 close to 1:30pm, two agents of the Réserve Naturelle went to the rescue of two boaters in danger within the waters of the Réserve. Coming from the Dutch side toward Pinel aboard their 40’ cabin with its two powerful motors, the two men aboard went too close to the reef at Grandes Cayes and hit the coral reef before finding themselves immobilized and unable to maneuver, taking a lot of water into the hull and their propellers bent. Franck Roncuzzi and Julien Chalifour leapt to their aid aboard the Contender belonging to the Réserve and succeeded in towing the boat as far as the bay in Cul-de-Sac. The owner, an 82 year-old American, spent the night aboard to avoid having his boat sink, and had it towed the next day to a shipyard in the lagoon.

From February 1 through May 31, 2018, the rangers of the Réserve Naturelle conducted 95 controls that were compliant to regulations, while 10 other controls proved non-compliant:

  • Presence of a jet ski in Galion Bay
  • Kite surfing by three people in Galion Bay, where this activity is prohibited by order of the prefect
  • Four individuals surprised while fishing in the waters of the Réserve
  • Two drones flown without authorization within the Réserve Naturelle

No charges were filed while the laws were repeated to the offenders.

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