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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, June 25, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesPNR SETS OUT SYNTHETIC HABITATS TO LURE FISH

PNR SETS OUT SYNTHETIC HABITATS TO LURE FISH

With the sportfishing season in full swing, the Planning and Natural Resources Department has announced the placement of synthetic versions of natural marine habitats at selected sites in Virgin Islands waters. They're intended to aid anglers by attracting fish to areas that will be evident to those out on the water looking to reel in their catch of the day.
The "fish aggregating devices," also known as "FADs," employ palm fronds and green netting held in place under the surface of the water. They are designed to attract fish such as wahoo, tuna, dolphin, mackerel and even marlin.
They are attached to bright yellow steel buoys that are nearly 5 feet in diameter and fitted with strobe lights, radar reflectors and day markers. The strobe lights provide visibility for a two-mile range. Heavy chain and at least one two-ton concrete anchor secure each FAD to the ocean bottom.
Seven FADs have been installed since February, the most recent off St. Croix in May.
The only problem so far, according to Barbara Kojis, director of the PNR Division of Fish and Wildlife, is that a ship struck one that had been placed south of St. John in February and it came loose and washed up on a beach.
FADs have helped commercial fishermen in Hawaii increase their catches, Kojis said. However, she noted, it takes a while for the devices to become familiar, and thus non-theatening, to fish.
St. Thomas and St. John sportfishing boats routinely head for the North Drop between the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, where the fishing is known to be good. However, those waters are technically in British Virgin Islands territory, and their use by U.S. fishing parties has caused controversy and sometimes acrimony over the years.
By international standards, a nation's sovereignty over its surrounding waters extends out for 12 miles. However, with the distance between the British and northern U.S. Virgins far less than that, both could claim the intervening waters. An agreement signed by the U.S. and British governments in 1979 ceded the waters where the North Drop lies over to the B.V.I.
Still, it has long been the custom for the B.V.I. to allow sportfishing in the area by U.S. vessels. But sporadically – and for no apparent reason – B.V.I. officials have threatened to stop U.S. sportfishing boats from fishing the area. In 1997, B.V.I. officials even threatened to confiscate boats out of U.S.V.I. ports, according to Harry Clinton, who then chaired the St. Thomas-St. John Fishery Advisory Committee.
Then Gov. Roy L. Schneider entered into discussions with B.V.I. Chief Minister Ralph O'Neal to draft a memorandum of understanding. Around the same time, a contingent of concerned Virgin Islanders went to Tortola to discuss the issue with B.V.I. government officials. No agreement was reached, no memorandum of understanding was signed and U.S.V.I. anglers are still in limbo at the North Drop.
One sportfishing captain said he was notified this year there would be a change in the cost of his license to fish the B.V.I. waters but has not heard anything else.
Fish and Wildlife officials are hoping the FADs will attract sufficient numbers of fish to make both commercial and recreation fishing profitable in U.S.V.I. territorial waters.
Kojis said the one FAD had been attracting significant numbers of fish was the one that was dislodged south of St. John. She said she suspect the culprit was a very large ship.
Of the other six, four are in place around St. Croix and two are off St. Thomas, one to the north and the other, to the south.
The construction and installation of the FADs was a joint effort of the Fish and Wildlife Division, the Agriculture and Public Works Departments, the Port Authority and the U.S. Navy. Funding was provided by the U.S. Interior Department, Fish and Wildlife, and the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program.

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With the sportfishing season in full swing, the Planning and Natural Resources Department has announced the placement of synthetic versions of natural marine habitats at selected sites in Virgin Islands waters. They're intended to aid anglers by attracting fish to areas that will be evident to those out on the water looking to reel in their catch of the day.
The "fish aggregating devices," also known as "FADs," employ palm fronds and green netting held in place under the surface of the water. They are designed to attract fish such as wahoo, tuna, dolphin, mackerel and even marlin.
They are attached to bright yellow steel buoys that are nearly 5 feet in diameter and fitted with strobe lights, radar reflectors and day markers. The strobe lights provide visibility for a two-mile range. Heavy chain and at least one two-ton concrete anchor secure each FAD to the ocean bottom.
Seven FADs have been installed since February, the most recent off St. Croix in May.
The only problem so far, according to Barbara Kojis, director of the PNR Division of Fish and Wildlife, is that a ship struck one that had been placed south of St. John in February and it came loose and washed up on a beach.
FADs have helped commercial fishermen in Hawaii increase their catches, Kojis said. However, she noted, it takes a while for the devices to become familiar, and thus non-theatening, to fish.
St. Thomas and St. John sportfishing boats routinely head for the North Drop between the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, where the fishing is known to be good. However, those waters are technically in British Virgin Islands territory, and their use by U.S. fishing parties has caused controversy and sometimes acrimony over the years.
By international standards, a nation's sovereignty over its surrounding waters extends out for 12 miles. However, with the distance between the British and northern U.S. Virgins far less than that, both could claim the intervening waters. An agreement signed by the U.S. and British governments in 1979 ceded the waters where the North Drop lies over to the B.V.I.
Still, it has long been the custom for the B.V.I. to allow sportfishing in the area by U.S. vessels. But sporadically – and for no apparent reason – B.V.I. officials have threatened to stop U.S. sportfishing boats from fishing the area. In 1997, B.V.I. officials even threatened to confiscate boats out of U.S.V.I. ports, according to Harry Clinton, who then chaired the St. Thomas-St. John Fishery Advisory Committee.
Then Gov. Roy L. Schneider entered into discussions with B.V.I. Chief Minister Ralph O'Neal to draft a memorandum of understanding. Around the same time, a contingent of concerned Virgin Islanders went to Tortola to discuss the issue with B.V.I. government officials. No agreement was reached, no memorandum of understanding was signed and U.S.V.I. anglers are still in limbo at the North Drop.
One sportfishing captain said he was notified this year there would be a change in the cost of his license to fish the B.V.I. waters but has not heard anything else.
Fish and Wildlife officials are hoping the FADs will attract sufficient numbers of fish to make both commercial and recreation fishing profitable in U.S.V.I. territorial waters.
Kojis said the one FAD had been attracting significant numbers of fish was the one that was dislodged south of St. John. She said she suspect the culprit was a very large ship.
Of the other six, four are in place around St. Croix and two are off St. Thomas, one to the north and the other, to the south.
The construction and installation of the FADs was a joint effort of the Fish and Wildlife Division, the Agriculture and Public Works Departments, the Port Authority and the U.S. Navy. Funding was provided by the U.S. Interior Department, Fish and Wildlife, and the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program.