Man of War Shoal National Marine Park

Protected Area Overview

Managed by St. Maarten Nature Foundation
Established 2010
Size 3,100 ha. (7,660 ac.)

The Man of War Shoal National Marine Park, established in 2010, covers 31 km2 (3,100 hectares) and is located off the southern shore of the island of St. Maarten. The park protects a range of habitats from globally threatened coral reefs and seagrass beds to open water. Visitors must purchase a Marine Park entrance tag and income generated through the sale of the tags goes directly towards the management of the marine protected area.

Studies conducted by the St. Maarten Nature Foundation have shown that biodiversity in the park area, particularly coral reef coverage, is high. The coral reefs are diverse with coral reef pinnacles, patch reef and fringing reef. The park is home to many types of reef fish, sea turtles, numerous species of shark, lobsters and the rare Queen Conch (Lobatus gigas). It also is a migratory stopover point for many marine mammals, including whales and dolphins. In 2013, the first ecological assessment was conducted within the Man of War Shoal Marine Park and showed that fish populations, including butterfly fish, grunts, snappers and parrotfish, have increase by 10 to 20% since the park’s creation. There is also a marked 20% increase in grouper in general and Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatusmore specifically, which indicates a reduction in fishing threats.

Divers are spoilt for choice within the Man of War Shoal Marine Park, which is home to some of the island’s last pristine reef areas. The Marine Park’s reef formations include spur and groove formations, caves and patch reefs. Additionally, the park includes shipwrecks and sunk artificial reefs. Proselyte Reef is the site of a Spanish Warship that sank in 1801. Artifacts such as large anchors, cannons, barrel hoops, cannon balls, and pottery are still evident on this popular St. Maarten dive site, which is considered a marine archaeological treasure. The park also offers recreational opportunities such as boating, yachting, snorkelling and kayaking.

Download the Man of War Shoal Marine Park Flyer here.

Park Management Organisation: St. Maarten Nature Foundation

The St. Maarten Nature Foundation is a non-profit organisation that was established to enhance St. Maarten’s natural environment through effective management, education, awareness and protection of natural resources.

The St. Maarten Nature Foundation’s vision is a thriving actively managed and sustainably used marine environment around St. Maarten, which it aims to fulfill through the following mission: “to manage, conserve and restore St. Maarten’s marine ecological, cultural and historical resources for education, ecological functionality and sustainable use with continued stakeholder participation, for the benefit of current and future generations”. NAFSXM aims to accomplish its vision and mission by achieving the following goals:

  • Manage St. Maarten’s Man of War Shoal Marine Park as a regionally and globally significant protected area, within an effective legislative framework and with commitment from stakeholders;
  • Conserve and restore, through practical conservation and active management; a) the natural values of the marine park, including threatened, rare and endangered species, habitats, water quality, biological diversity, ecosystem processes and aesthetic values and b) the cultural and historical marine resources of St. Maarten;
  • Facilitate the use of St. Maarten’s marine environment for: a) tourism, yachting and diving; b) education and c) research, monitoring and training.
  • Ensure the promotion of the marine environment as a traditionally and contemporarily valuable, sustainable, multiple use resource whilst establishing rules, guidelines, permits and enforcing legislation.
  • Ensure the involvement of the local community and stakeholders, to cultivate a sense of ownership and continuing support for the zoning, regulations and management practices of Man of War Shoal Marine Park.