COLE BAY–Caribbean sharks have gained a new ally with the launch of SXM Shark Foundation on July 13, the eve of Shark Awareness Day 2019.The new foundation will work towards making St. Maarten a leading country for shark conservation and management in the wider Caribbean region and around the world.
St. Maarten has a wealth of shark species and Nature Foundation St. Maarten (NFSM) has worked closely with the government to develop protective legislation for sharks in its waters.
NFSM worked together with all Dutch Caribbean islands on the Save our Sharks (SoS) project from 2015 to 2018 to better protect sharks in the Dutch Caribbean. Great advances were made on research, education, and protection through the project, funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery. However, sharks still face constant threats from exploitation and habitat loss throughout the region, so more work is needed.
Tadzio Bervoets, one of the founding members of SXM Shark Foundation and a leader in marine conservation, said, “Through the work of the Nature Foundation we have discovered how important this area is to the sharks in the Caribbean, but they face a constant threat. This foundation offers new opportunities so that we can better protect these marvelous animals for generations to come.”
Despite all the good work that has been done, implementation of conservation measures is not widespread and education on the importance of sharks in the marine system is sorely needed. The new foundation aims to not only lead shark conservation and management efforts within the wider Caribbean region, but also to set up collaborative projects on shark research and conservation with organizations in Europe, the United States and Caribbean countries.
In St. Maarten, the foundation will work with local organizations to develop conservation and education projects.
Irene Kingma, foundation president and Netherlands lead for the Save our Sharks project, said, “Now that the SoS project has concluded we want to continue the wonderful cooperation with St. Maarten and we see this as a perfect opportunity to further develop the work we have been doing together.”
For more information about the new foundation, contact Kingma on +316-4826/3524 or e-mail