St. Maarten: Paradise in Peril

Frigate bird, St Maarten. Photo source: ©© Penumbra

Excerpts; by Patrick Holian; a Green Antilles Interview

Sint Maarten is at the crucial point of destroying the last of what draws crowds of dollar-touting tourists to this once-pristine Caribbean island.

“When the Oasis of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, was bathing in opening ceremonial champagne in 2010, no-nonsense dredgers were busy scraping out the bottom of Sint Maarten’s Great Bay to accommodate the behemoth boat’s thirty-one foot draft.

The port did not want to miss out on welcoming the 6000 passengers that this mega-vessel promised to deliver each time it arrives.

Photograph: © SAF

The dregs from the bay were taken to the Great Salt Pond, one of the few remaining wetlands on the island—critical habitat for birds, fish, and other marine organisms. The pond is currently being filled in with the bay’s sand to build a ring road, one declared by politicians and developers alike as an absolute must for the island’s economy. There is also talk by some of constructing a drag strip there. Others want to build a cricket stadium in the pond, which also currently holds the island’s landfill.

Welcome to a paradise in peril.”

Landing at the Princess Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten. Captions and Photo source: ©© Aldo Bidini

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