June 14, 2002 Beginning back in 1992, certain shore areas of St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John were designated marine reserves and/or wildlife sanctuaries. Since then five areas have been so identified:
-- Cas Cay/Mangrove Lagoon Reserve, St. Thomas
-- Compass Point Marine Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary, St. Thomas
-- Salt River Marine and Wildlife Sanctuary, St. Croix
-- Small Pond at Frank Bay Wildlife and Marine Sanctuary, St. John
-- St. James Reserve, off St. Thomas.
The Environmental Enforcement Division and the Fish and Wildlife Division, both part of the V.I. Planning and Natural Resources Department, wish to remind the public that there are specific rules and regulations governing the types of marine activities that are permitted within the reserve boundaries.
A summary of details of regulations include the following:
-- Cas Cay (Area "B" on graphic): Use of a cast net with a minimum square mesh size of one-quarter inch to capture bait fish ("fry") within 50 feet of the north and west shorelines only is allowed. A special monthly permit obtained from the Environmental Enforcement Division is required to catch baitfish in the designated shoreline areas.
-- Inner Mangrove Lagoon (Area "D"). Special restrictions.
-- Compass Point(Area "A"): No fishing, hunting or taking of any plant or animal is permitted within the reserve and wildlife sanctuary.
-- Salt River: Regulations are pending to prohibit commercial fishing or harvest of fishery resources within the sanctuary. Check with the government agencies for status of these prohibitions.
-- Small Pond at Frank Bay: Regulations are pending for the same prohibitions as Salt River.
-- St. James (Area "C"): Use of a cast net with a minimum square mesh size of one-quarter inch to capture bait fish ("fry") within 50 feet of the shoreline is allowed. Cow and Calf Rocks are off-limits and are not considered as shoreline. A special monthly permit obtained from the Environmental Enforcement Division is required to catch baitfish or hook and line fish in the reserve.
Because there have been reports of illegal activity, including fish traps, in these areas, the general public and marine interests are advised that anyone caught within these areas without the proper permits and/or conducting prohibited activities will be cited and/or arrested, according to the DPNR release.
The Fish and Wildlife Division has free publications available upon request that provide marine interests with fuller information: "Commercial Fisherman's Information Booklet" and "Marine Reserves and Wildlife Sanctuaries" leaflet. Some information in this article was taken from these publications.
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