80.3 F
Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesEYES ON THE PRIZE

EYES ON THE PRIZE

President Clinton's 11th hour declaration of national underwater monuments off St. John and St. Croix has rankled a lot of Virgin Islanders.
Turnbull administration officials claim they weren't offered sufficient input on the plan, a contention that some environmentalists see as a convenient excuse to dodge the flak being directed at Clinton's action. Local fishermen are worried that any no-fishing policy in the monument areas will cripple their ability to earn a living. And several past and present officials maintain that the territorial government – not the federal government – owns much of the land in question, which, if true, would seem to negate the legality of Clinton's action.
We understand and sympathize with all of these concerns.
But we also believe that the goal of protecting and preserving the reefs and marine life in the underwater acres around our islands is a worthy one.
President Clinton, in his proclamation, designated a new V.I. Coral Reef National Monument in about 12,000 underwater acres around St. John. He dramatically expanded the Buck Island Reef National Monument off St. Croix from 900 acres to more than 18,000 acres. The Interior Department has three years to develop a management plan for the St. John park and two years for the Buck Island park.
Those plans are likely to move forward in tandem with the dispute over the ownership of the underwater acreage. So it would behoove us – all of us – to make sure that those management plans reflect the needs of this community.
The biggest issue, in our view, involves local fishing rights. While local fishermen clearly understand the need to preserve and protect the reefs and marine life in these areas, they also want to preserve and protect their livelihoods. We believe it is possible to find a balance between the fishermen's needs and the community's long-term interest in ensuring the health and beauty of our reefs.
The designation of these underwater monuments is not necessarily a bad thing – in fact, it is a good thing, though we wish it been done with the local government's full input and blessing. But in fighting the feds over ownership and over overstepping their bounds, let's not lose sight of the need to protect our underwater environment. If we really want to keep our eyes on the prize, that's it.

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
4,756FollowersFollow

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more
President Clinton's 11th hour declaration of national underwater monuments off St. John and St. Croix has rankled a lot of Virgin Islanders.
Turnbull administration officials claim they weren't offered sufficient input on the plan, a contention that some environmentalists see as a convenient excuse to dodge the flak being directed at Clinton's action. Local fishermen are worried that any no-fishing policy in the monument areas will cripple their ability to earn a living. And several past and present officials maintain that the territorial government – not the federal government – owns much of the land in question, which, if true, would seem to negate the legality of Clinton's action.
We understand and sympathize with all of these concerns.
But we also believe that the goal of protecting and preserving the reefs and marine life in the underwater acres around our islands is a worthy one.
President Clinton, in his proclamation, designated a new V.I. Coral Reef National Monument in about 12,000 underwater acres around St. John. He dramatically expanded the Buck Island Reef National Monument off St. Croix from 900 acres to more than 18,000 acres. The Interior Department has three years to develop a management plan for the St. John park and two years for the Buck Island park.
Those plans are likely to move forward in tandem with the dispute over the ownership of the underwater acreage. So it would behoove us – all of us – to make sure that those management plans reflect the needs of this community.
The biggest issue, in our view, involves local fishing rights. While local fishermen clearly understand the need to preserve and protect the reefs and marine life in these areas, they also want to preserve and protect their livelihoods. We believe it is possible to find a balance between the fishermen's needs and the community's long-term interest in ensuring the health and beauty of our reefs.
The designation of these underwater monuments is not necessarily a bad thing – in fact, it is a good thing, though we wish it been done with the local government's full input and blessing. But in fighting the feds over ownership and over overstepping their bounds, let's not lose sight of the need to protect our underwater environment. If we really want to keep our eyes on the prize, that's it.