Members of the public are being reminded that it is an offence to harvest certain aquatic species at this time in the British Virgin Islands.
Between January 1 to March 31, persons are not permitted to catch, sell or offer for sale or buy margate, red hind and the Nassau grouper.
Persons are also not allowed to harvest turtles from April 1 to November 30, lobster from July 31 to October 31, conch from April 15 to October 31 and whelk from August 15 to October 31 local authorities have said.
Persons witnessing the harvest during those times are asked to contact the Department of Conservation and Fisheries immediately.
Commenting on the closed season, Minister of Natural Resources Vincent Wheatley said on social media: “Apart from the closed season on certain species of fish, please be reminded that South Sound is a Fisheries protected area. Effective immediately there is to be no harvesting of conch until further notice.”
Persons can be prosecuted
According to the fishing laws of the territory, anyone caught harvesting or practising the following illegal methods below “will be prosecuted in court at the maximum penalty”.
Some illegal methods according to law, include hauling, removing or emptying another person’s fish traps or pots or fishing gear without permission from the owner, using cast nets with a mesh size of less than 3/16 inch; using a beach seine with a mesh size of fewer than 1½ inches.
Furthermore, harvesting lobsters with eggs, with spear guns or hooks, or less than one pound in weight or which has a carapace or head of less than 3 ½ inches is illegal.
Marine Protected areas
Meanwhile, the Conservation & Fisheries Department has indicated that marine protected areas in the territory include the Beef Island channel, Big Reef on Peter Island, Dead Chest, Frenchman’s Cay, Green Cay on Jost Van Dyke, Hans Creek on Beef Island, Horseshoe Reef on Anegada, Money Bay, Santa Monica Rock and Norman Island.
The other areas are North Bay on Guana Island, South Sound, Taylor’s Bay to Copper Mine on Virgin Gorda, The Sound and Wedges Bay on Ginger Island, and The Sound on Salt Island.
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