Clean-up at Fort Amsterdam, a brown pelican  nesting site

Clean-up at Fort Amsterdam,  a brown pelican  nesting site

Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) Foundation, in partnership with Divi Little Bay Resort, held a successful presentation on pelicans and clean-up at Fort Amsterdam for SXM DOET. (Nina Bijnsdorp photo)

PHILIPSBURG--Thirty volunteers gathered at Fort Amsterdam early in the morning of Friday, March 10, for a clean-up event organised as part of SXM DOET. In two hours, participants were able to collect a large pile of trash, including car parts, beach chairs, cables and zinc debris left over from previous storms. 


Thirty volunteers gathered at Fort Amsterdam early in the morning of Friday, March 10, for a clean-up event organised as part of SXM DOET. In photo: Brown pelicans, which nest at the site. Story on page .

Fully supporting the yearly volunteer event SXM DOET, Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) Foundation took this opportunity to reach out to Divi Little Bay Resort, which immediately agreed to partner on this event with logistics and helping with a team of staff and tourists alike.

  “I regularly participate in clean-ups around the island.” said Divi Little Bay Resort Manager Anne-Marie Brooks, “At Divi, we are always keen to find interested volunteers and help with any efforts to protect the site.”

  A full team of the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) staff registered for the event, led by Director Claret Connor and Director of Operations Abel Knottnerus. Abiding EPIC volunteer and Member of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams and her daughter joined efforts, working hard to remove debris from the rocky beach.

  A bin was donated courtesy of All Waste in Place N.V. to collect the pile of trash and debris. The peninsula was relieved of common trash like bottles, cans, parts of Styrofoam and plastic scattered in the dense vegetation.

  After the clean-up, participants gathered to listen to the EPIC team discuss the Caribbean brown pelican and the importance of its habitat. “Our monitoring over the last five months showed that there are only about 30 pelicans nesting at Fort Amsterdam,” said Margot Mesnard, coordinator of EPIC’s Pelican Project. “Many of the nesting birds raise just one chick per year and need to take care of the chick for several months.”

  EPIC encourages everyone to protect the pelicans’ habitat from pollution while trying to reduce disturbance as much as possible to keep a healthy pelican population.

  EPIC’s Pelican Project started in November 2022 and runs until April 2023. The objective is to research the current status of the Caribbean brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) on St. Maarten and promote conservation of its habitat through awareness raising and outreach activities.

  With the data collected, the long-term goal of this project is to improve management of natural resources for the preservation of biodiversity on St. Maarten. A manual with findings of pelican monitoring and ecotoxicology analysis will be distributed to relevant stakeholders, also containing recommendations for best practices for management and protection of this iconic species.

  A permanent education sign about pelicans will be placed at Fort Amsterdam in the upcoming weeks and to date EPIC has reached more than 350 children through primary school presentations.

  EPIC’s representative Rueben J. Thompson, who participated in the clean-up, said, “Learning about our natural environment, cultural heritage and keeping our island clean is of major importance for future generations.”

  This project is funded by the United Nations SPAW/RAC, Prins Bernhard Culture Fund, SXM DOET, and the Dutch representation in St. Maarten.

  Updates about this project and upcoming events can be found on EPIC’s Facebook page and on Instagram @epic.islands. For more information or enquiries into collaboration, contact

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