I was born and raised in St.Thomas. I have been living in Miami fl for the past ten years, but I stay up to date with the news in St. Thomas and very frequently visit what will always to me be called home. I grew up in a family that was very involved in ocean activities. I basically grew up in the ocean and spent a great deal of time fishing. In recent years experts seem to be popping up everywhere in the Virgin Islands talking about ocean conservation. It seems that fishermen are largely being blamed or to a degree being punished for a decreased ocean life population, mostly fish. Yes, I agree that ocean life is being decreased but blaming and punishing the fishermen are not the answer. It seems every year there are more restrictions on fishing and fishing areas. Are these conservationists forgetting about the hurricanes that pass through every year and destroy the coral reefs? These coral reefs are sanctuaries for juvenile fish and home for many other species, what about the sewage that is being pumped into the ocean that also kill sea life? Blaming the fishermen is not the answer, even if fishing was banned in the Virgin Islands it would still take years to populate the waters around the islands. The key to population of fish is the coral reefs. What are the conservationists doing about the reefs? Yes, some corals take a long time to grow but we can also help or jump start the growth by creating artificial reefs. How many reefs have been created by the conservationist? Apparently, not enough are being created if they are at all. Here in Florida artificial reefs are very frequently being created and the growth of sea life is amazing, this can also be done in the Virgin Islands. Here is my suggestion, the departments of fish and wild life, planning and natural resources, the local fishermen, and whatever other government departments, conservationist or federal institutions, should meet and form a combine effort to create artificial reefs. The bulk of supplies are already at hand, there is a lot of material on the local dump that are approved by federal government to use for artificial reefs, one example is tires, and there is also federal money available for these projects. Instead of looking for the easy way out, passing blame and imposing too many restrictions these agencies and people should combine, do some research and start rebuilding the reefs. If the reefs come back, the fish come back, fishermen can continue their way of life, conservationist are happy. With a little teamwork it can be done and the Virgin Islands will always be beautiful.
Leroy Hermon Jr.
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