Marine sector veteran Robbie Ferron in an opinion piece published on Monday questioned a recent announcement that any salvaging of sunken and/or badly damaged vessels due to Hurricane Irma in Simpson Bay Lagoon would require approval by the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI. The related story appeared on page 4 of last week Wednesday’s paper, right under a feature photo caption about a barge with a 150-tonne crane, heavy equipment and crew having arrived to start removing wrecks in an effort led by Yacht Club of Port de Plaisance.
Government did mention that prior to any salvaging, precautions are to be taken against leakage of oils and fuel into the lagoon. It also said locations would be designated for vessels that cannot be placed in a boatyard.
These are no doubt two valid points, but the stated intention was already to have St. Maarten Nature Foundation assist with all lifts. Moreover, as pointed out in Ferron’s letter, VROMI is not exactly known for its expertise in this field.
Just like happened with the original release on needing permits to rebuild damaged homes that was later limited to only when making structural changes, in this case too local marinas could be allowed to at least clear the wrecks and debris in their waters in a responsible manner pending the official green light, while obviously keeping the impact on nature in mind.
As the latter will actually only worsen with further delay, a pragmatic approach is clearly called for, making use of the vast available knowledge and experience in the industry.