Grand Case, Fishing Village

When the rains come to St. Martin, overflow channels are opened up from the various ponds. In Grand Case, a fishing village back in the day, this turns into open season on tarpon and other fish that take the opportunity to head out to sea or into the airport pond. Below are a few shots of some folks who dug a channel through some accumulated sand and were fishing with a cast net. Most of the fish caught were tarpon, although there were a couple smaller species. Attracting some tourists, they encouraged folks to take photos while holding some of the fish.

In some ways, it was hard to know what to think. On the one hand, it was nice to see a traditional fishing practice that was probably about the same decades ago. Catching a few fish while it is seasonally opportune seems like a classic example of a sustainable practice. On the other hand, seeing and smelling the pollution in the water made me wonder about the practicality and safety of fishing this way today. This isn’t water I would even want to stand in.

Once again, it’s hard to spend a day on this island without thinking about development and the problems it has caused. Development can be positive, for sure, and there’s no going back to the salt picking days. However, when it isn’t done responsibly, you end up with a pond full of sewage. Much ill to the island has been justified in the name of jobs, but I think this is often misleading.

In reality, the state of the local environment and the well-being of everyday St. Martiners are highly linked. A clean island contributes to the health and quality of life of residents, while problems caused by pollution and environmental degradation disproportionately affect the poor and working class. The cost of responsible development is not necessarily a loss of jobs as much as decreased profits for investors. After all, implementing proper sewage systems and other environmental programs requires labor, and the destruction of the island reduces its value as a tourist destination. It’s impossible to turn back the clock on development, and I don’t think many people living here would choose to go back to the St. Martin of 50 or 100 years ago. I think it is possible to hope for a future where sustainable development can coexist with the natural environment and the cultural traditions that St. Martiners choose to maintain.

One Response to “Grand Case, Fishing Village”

  1. Gisele Sxm Says:

    Great post