Oct. 6, 2003 – U.S. and British Virgin Islands officials have agreed on new procedures to ensure that U.S.V.I.-based boaters know B.V.I. fishing regulations and can easily comply with them.
The agreement comes with B.V.I. authorities having stepped up enforcement of regulations requiring foreign fishing vessels to obtain a license and registration before fishing in B.V.I. waters.
Criminal charges are pending against four U.S.V.I.-based fishermen who stand accused of illegally fishing in B.V.I. waters in two separate incidents.
According to a statement released last week by the B.V.I. government, the procedures were agreed upon during a Sept. 29 meeting between top-level B.V.I. and U.S.V.I. officials on Tortola.
The procedures include the following:
– In the case of sportfishing tournaments, the names or persons who will be on board foreign boats must be faxed to B.V.I. authorities 24 hours before their arrival in B.V.I. waters.
– The B.V.I. Customs Department will be responsible for clearing the vessels in and out of the territory. Customs would then advise the Conservation and Fisheries Department of a vessel's entry.
– Anglers are to be aware of the B.V.I.'s 12-mile territorial limit and its 200-mile exclusive economic zone. Once a vessel is within the B.V.I. 12-mile limit, the B.V.I. Customs Department must be alerted.
– Relevant sections of the B.V.I. Fisheries Regulations will be attached to sportfishing licenses. These sections relate to the catching and releasing of all billfish; the daily bag limit of 30 pounds per boat; the required keeping of logbooks; and submission of logbook information to the Conservation and Fisheries Department.
Sheila Brathwaite, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources, led the B.V.I. delegation at the Sept. 29 meeting. Other B.V.I. participants included representatives of Customs, Conservation and Fisheries, the Immigration Department and the B.V.I. Fishing Complex.
The U.S.V.I. delegation consisted of George Goodwin, assistant to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull; Harry Clinton, executive director of V.I. Gamefishing Club, and other members of the club.
The meeting was a follow-up to one held on Aug. 11 in the B.V.I., according to the statement.
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