Dear Honorable Gov. John Dejongh: I would like to inform you of the dangers and negative consequences due to the use of gill nets. Over the years, Gill net fishing has contributed to a devastating impact on the ocean life in the Virgin Islands. Endangered sea turtles, parrot fish, puffer fish, and other marine animals, numbers have significantly decreased due to this extremely unethical fishing technique. Even snorkelers and divers have been in harm's way due to gill nets.
Gillnetting is a fairly popular fishing method because of it effectiveness in catching large numbers of fish. Gillnets need to be closely monitored and regulated to decrease the number of by-catch and non target species. The Gill net works by fish unknowingly swimming through mesh openings designed to trap them by the gills. When the fish get trapped in this position it is impossible to find a way out.
Gill net fishing found its way in the Virgin Islands after Hurricane Hugo. Gill netting became prohibited in Florida, as a result, Gill net sales representatives came to the Caribbean to sell the nets. The effects of gill nets in the Virgin Islands have been destructive. Gill nets have taken a serious toll on tourism. There was once a time where ocean life was abundant. Many locals, tourists and fishermen agree that there is a significant decrease in fish. Gill nets have also played a part in the destruction of the coral reef, the nets have caught most of the algae-eating fish which help sustain the coral.
Although gill nets have been banned in the Virgin Islands since July 2006, the law is not being enforced by administration. The issue of gill nets has been very a very controversial topic in the Virgin Islands. The supporters for gill nets favor the fishermen; They proposed that the gill net ban is spurred by continentals that only make up ten percent of Virgin Islands, who only care about the fish and not the fisherman. The people against the use of gill nets favor the marine life, economy and sustenance of the reef.
I am against the use of gillnets. Gillnets are ruining our already messed up economy. The by-catch is too high, the fish population is too low and we are waiting too late to act on this crisis. This issue needs to be addressed as soon as possible before our reefs and ocean environment become irreversably damaged. I also find David Olsen to be an oxymoron, how could you be for environment yet support an environmentally dangerous technique like gill net fishing?
February 20th- net fisherman get too close- Stephanie Hanlon
February 21st Avis- Net kills endangered turtle-Stephanie Hanlon
March 25-source- St. Croix Source- sustain fisheries-
March 19, Daily News
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