The Department of Conservation and Fisheries has issued a statement ordering charter boat captains and their guests to ‘cease and desist’ from harvesting spiny lobsters from the local seabed.
The statement was released this week following a publication from a local magazine that promoted the activity in the ‘Virgin Islands’.
“That is something allowed in the US Virgin Islands but they (the publishers of the magazine) didn’t expressly state that. So, I think people who saw it were figuring that it was the same thing over here in the BVI,” Acting Chief Conservation and Fisheries Officer, Kelvin Penn, told BVI News.
He said his department has since reached out to the publication for a recant which they have agreed to.
Anegada residents complain
He also said there had been a number of complaints from Anegada residents about unauthorised lobster fishing from charter boaters.
“Even if they were not complaining, the point is that it is against the law … It’s only for commercial fishing and only Belongers and BVIslanders can do it,” Penn said.
BVI fishing laws mandate that only persons with a BVI Commercial Fishing licence are allowed to engage in the activity.
The territory’s Fisheries Act provides for fines of up to $30,000 to be imposed on persons found in violation of the law.
Penn, in the meantime, also noted that certain techniques such as spearfishing are prohibited in the territory.
He added that the law limits the number of ways that persons can fish in the territory. Lobsters, for example, are to be fished using pots or traps, Penn explained.
“So, even if you get a licence to do catch lobsters, it will have to be in pots and most charter boats don’t have pots and so forth,” he said.
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