Man O War Shoal Marine Park

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Present briefly the proposed area and its principal characteristics, and specify the objectives that motivated its creation :

The boundaries of the Man o War Shoal Marine Park are between 18N and 17-57.0 N and 63-01.03 W and 63-04.05 W, in an area better known as “the Proselyte Reef Complex ". The area was chosen to be a priority for conservation because of its intrinsic ecological, economic and cultural value. The MPA includes a large area varied bathymetry and underwater formations. From rocky reef at 3m depth to deep patch reef over 35m deep and beyond to benthic habitats in excess of 80m deep.

This area includes the island’s most ecologically and economically important marine habitat, including extensive coral reef areas, seagrass beds and open ocean. The habitats are a  home and migratory stop over or breeding site for 54 UCN Red List Species, 10 CITES Appendix I species and 89 Appendix II species (2011 data).

Previous plans to develop a Marine Park for St. Maarten were too complex which led to discontent with various stakeholders, especially fishermen who saw their traditional fishing grounds being encroached upon. The draft ordinance also clashed with the Minister’s responsibilities for ensuring safe waterways and anchorages.

Through extensive consultations and meetings between Nature Foundation St. Maarten and many stakeholders during 2009, an agreement was reached to implement marine conservation on St. Maarten in stages. The first and most important step was the establishment of the Man of War Shoal Marine Park in December 2010, with Nature Foundation St. Maarten being the organisation responsible for it's management.

Explain why the proposed area should be proposed for inclusion in the SPAW list

The Man o War Shoal Marine Park offers effective legal protection to the marine habitats, species and environment as a whole that lie within it's boundaries. This offers the species refuge from anthropogenic threats, whilst sustaining natural resources and processes. The site is a home and stop over for 32 species listed in SPAW Annex II and +/- 238 Annex III species, as well as species listed in other conservation initiatives. 

Man O War Shoal Marine Park is a popular area for divers. Numerous dive operators work with tourists on St Maarten, bringing in significant amounts of income to the economy annually. Proselyte reef is a favoured dive site, being the site of a wreck of a Spanish warship that sank in 1801. Traditional fishing methods are also used within the park boundaries.

Man O War Shoal Marine Park was legally recognized in 2010 and Nature Foundation St Maarten has a mandate to manage the site, along with seven other dive sites outside the park and a 100m radius around those sites. Established in 1997, Nature Foundation St Maarten is an experienced nature management organization, and continues to work effectively with stakeholders in the pursuit of it’s conservation goals.

The Man O War Shoal Marine Park is a hub for ecological and management networking between neighboring marine parks and their management organisations in St Martin (French side), Saba and St Eustatius as well as other neighboring islands. The management body of Man O War Shoal Marine Park , Nature Foundation St Maarten, is also a key part of a wider regional networking initiative - The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance.

St Maartens population relies very heavily on coastal and marine resources for economic, social and cultural well being. Considering the threats facing these natural resources, the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife Protocol (SPAW) will provide far reaching solutions to the challenges we face with regards to coastal resource management. The Man O War Shoal Marine Park addresess all of the necessary criteria for inclusion in the list  (under Annex V. Final Guidelines and Criteria for the Evaluation of Protected Areas to be listed).

According to you, to which Criteria it conforms (Guidelines and Criteria B Paragraph 2)

Conservation value
Critical habitats

Cultural and socio-economic criterias

Cultural and traditional use
Socio-economic benefits