78.5 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, July 7, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesPROTECTING REEFS AND RIGHTS

PROTECTING REEFS AND RIGHTS

The recent news regarding Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt's visit to the islands and his promotion of coral reef preservation has given me cause to publicly express my hope that as efforts are made to preserve the coral reefs for all to enjoy, that in seeking to achieve this, balance is established between coral reef preservation and the needs of a segment of the Virgin Islands population who fish our reefs in search of food and for recreational purposes.
The population segment of which I refer is that group of Virgin Islanders who are not necessarily adept in scuba diving and underwater photography, but rather quite efficient in traditional fishing methods that the conservationist might quarrel with.
I recognize the need for caution and even regulation to preserve for posterity, our underwater marine life. I believe that a balance between this interest and reasonable access to underwater marine life by traditionalist fishermen and recreational fishing enthusiasts should be considered. Our desire for food from indigenous sources remains.
I enjoyed recreational fishing and hunting immensely. In fact, they were a meaningful part of the recreational life of our family. But, with the numerous rules, regulations and laws that have been adopted, it is difficult to pursue this form of pleasure without the constant fear of being in violation of the law.
More and more Virgin Islanders' freedom of movement and activity around our shores and adjoining waters are being restricted, either by local law or by federal rules, regulations and laws. Many Virgin Islanders in my age group reflect with nostalgia upon the freedom of movement and the nature of activities that we were able to engage in around our cays and islets and across submerged lands, without the onerous restrictions that apply today.
These restrictions are the primary reasons that support my view against the transfer of any more of our remaining cays from local control to the National Park Service. While the National Park Service has done an outstanding job since it was established in the territory, I do not believe that any more large tracts of land, cays, islets or submerged lands should be added to its holdings.
I believe that for the next fifteen years, there should be a self-imposed moratorium by the Park Service not to actively pursue the addition of new acreage to its holdings-especially on St. John where available acreage for use by local residents is contracting rapidly.
Our remaining cays, islets and submerged lands should be allocated to the yet to be developed Territorial Park of the Virgin Islands-a local entity. We are a group of small islands, and we can ill afford to commit any more of our remaining land and sea resources to federal control. We are simply putting too much of our limited landmass and seabed into the National Park.
Perhaps Secretary Babbitt can assist the territory in another way by using his influence to have the Park Service deed to the local government the land needed on St. John to erect a new school. Alternatively, and without any quid pro quos, perhaps he can secure for St. Johnians, a land use permit that runs into perpetuity, and allows for the construction of this badly needed educational complex outside of congested Cruz Bay. Has there been any request for Secretary Babbitt's intervention in this matter?
As we plan for the recreational and other needs of our visitors, let us not forget the needs of Virgin Islanders!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

STAY CONNECTED

20,771FansLike
4,753FollowersFollow

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more
The recent news regarding Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt's visit to the islands and his promotion of coral reef preservation has given me cause to publicly express my hope that as efforts are made to preserve the coral reefs for all to enjoy, that in seeking to achieve this, balance is established between coral reef preservation and the needs of a segment of the Virgin Islands population who fish our reefs in search of food and for recreational purposes.
The population segment of which I refer is that group of Virgin Islanders who are not necessarily adept in scuba diving and underwater photography, but rather quite efficient in traditional fishing methods that the conservationist might quarrel with.
I recognize the need for caution and even regulation to preserve for posterity, our underwater marine life. I believe that a balance between this interest and reasonable access to underwater marine life by traditionalist fishermen and recreational fishing enthusiasts should be considered. Our desire for food from indigenous sources remains.
I enjoyed recreational fishing and hunting immensely. In fact, they were a meaningful part of the recreational life of our family. But, with the numerous rules, regulations and laws that have been adopted, it is difficult to pursue this form of pleasure without the constant fear of being in violation of the law.
More and more Virgin Islanders' freedom of movement and activity around our shores and adjoining waters are being restricted, either by local law or by federal rules, regulations and laws. Many Virgin Islanders in my age group reflect with nostalgia upon the freedom of movement and the nature of activities that we were able to engage in around our cays and islets and across submerged lands, without the onerous restrictions that apply today.
These restrictions are the primary reasons that support my view against the transfer of any more of our remaining cays from local control to the National Park Service. While the National Park Service has done an outstanding job since it was established in the territory, I do not believe that any more large tracts of land, cays, islets or submerged lands should be added to its holdings.
I believe that for the next fifteen years, there should be a self-imposed moratorium by the Park Service not to actively pursue the addition of new acreage to its holdings-especially on St. John where available acreage for use by local residents is contracting rapidly.
Our remaining cays, islets and submerged lands should be allocated to the yet to be developed Territorial Park of the Virgin Islands-a local entity. We are a group of small islands, and we can ill afford to commit any more of our remaining land and sea resources to federal control. We are simply putting too much of our limited landmass and seabed into the National Park.
Perhaps Secretary Babbitt can assist the territory in another way by using his influence to have the Park Service deed to the local government the land needed on St. John to erect a new school. Alternatively, and without any quid pro quos, perhaps he can secure for St. Johnians, a land use permit that runs into perpetuity, and allows for the construction of this badly needed educational complex outside of congested Cruz Bay. Has there been any request for Secretary Babbitt's intervention in this matter?
As we plan for the recreational and other needs of our visitors, let us not forget the needs of Virgin Islanders!