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Beach replenishment
project at Maho starts

SIMPSON BAY--In an effort to replenish the Maho Bay beach in a sustained manner, a pilot beach replenishment project involving the placement of 'Goliath' (large) reef balls a short distance off shore has been undertaken with financing via the Dutch Recovery Fund. Target completion time is by the beginning of the tourism season in December.

For this pilot project, being coordinated by the Nature Foundation St. Maarten, approximately 15 reef ball will be made. Four reefs have already been made, Foundation Marine Park Manager Andy Caballero told The Daily Herald.

Maho Beach Resort and Casino has also showed interest in the project and may be providing some additional funding to increase the number of reef balls soon, Caballero said.

"With this pilot project, we are hoping for some beach replenishment. If this is successful, there may be an expansion later," he said. The reef balls will have a dual purpose; they will act as a breakwater. thus cutting down the rate of beach erosion and in a few years as a diving attraction. Coral will be transplanted into the reef balls stimulating the growth of a man made reef in the area.

Prior to the start of the project, a study was carried out by Dr. Lee Harris about the possibility of successfully replenishing the Maho Beach. Via this study, it was decided to move ahead with the project. Dr. Harris is on the island assisting the exercise along with Robbie Duke of Reef Ball Development Group Limited.

Reef balls were used to create a manmade reef in Great Bay last year by the Nature Foundation also with funding via the Dutch Recovery Fund, which is administered by a committee overseen by the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau. Finishing touches are being made to this project.

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