BVI News

Closed season | Illegal to harvest certain fish species now, public told

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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  1. Grass says:

    Will the enfirment authority ( if any) accept incriminating pic of individuals caught in the act of “harvesting” or sell/ trading such items for prosecution? Asking for a friend.

    Like 14
  2. Country says:

    Sadly this is a necessary move. It had to be done, good call Minister!

    Hope you have the mechanisms in play to enforce because that is a lot of areas to manage.

  3. sddfff says:

    I thought Illegal was just a sick bird. Get it… Ill Eagle? looooooooooollllllllllllllllllllllllll

    Like 3
    Dislike 4
  4. true says:

    Its a shame the conch season isn’t closed NOW instead of waiting till easter , but its a good start

  5. Diaspora says:

    This is a clear case of making a living and meeting demand vs depletion. Without strict and strongly enforced government actions, these resources would be quickly depleted. The Tragedy of the Commons scenario and behaviour would lead to depletion. Government cannot be a paper tiger on this issue so it must be vigilant and aggressive in enforcing the laws. It must make this an intergenerational issue, ie, it must manage the resources effectively for the current generations, ie, Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y(Millennials), Centennials and for generations yet unborn.

    In earlier times with a smaller population, fish, whelks, conchs, turtle……etc was available in ample supply (in local lingo they were knocking dog) and depletion was not a major concern. It (VI) even exported to the USVI; today, it struggles to meet domestic consumption needs. The population and demand have increased. Here is a listing of the approx population by decades compliment of World-o-meter; accuracy?: 1960(8K), 1970(10K), 1980(12K), 1990(17K), 2000(20K), 2010(28K) and Today (30K).

    Moreover, as an example for conservation and protection, let’s take a look at turtle. Turtle egg has a unique taste; it is a delicacy. However, the survival rate for young turtle is very low. Thus, the more that make it out to sea the higher the probability that more would make it to adulthood to make back to land to lay eggs and continue the cycle. A moratorium on catching turtle during the nesting period is the responsible thing to do. Up and down the Caribbean, turtle numbers are in decline and are endangered.

    Like 11
    • true says:

      but not in the BVI, conch is however due to exporting

    • To Official Reps. and Others says:

      This is a second alert to those in legislative power, to take Diaspors’s advice on the conservation of the turtle into further consideration and deliberation.

      It, the turtle, has been living on the edge here for decades. Diaspor’s suggestion is a needed one and should be given serious consideration.

      Perhaps even the consideration of developing a turtle hatchery release farm should be considered, as, such is quite possible.

      Last, no policy will inherit its intent if strict adherence to its principles are not enforced. Therefore, strict conservation protection requires policy and enforcement articles with huge teeth, harsh penalities and strong deterrent punishment, as the environment is huge, and are resources dependent to enforce.

      As such, put watch dog like bite and enforcement into that

  6. Hmmm says:

    Still not going stop them damn island people sick a dem

  7. Come on says:

    Nobody here (nor anywhere) needs to be taking endangered or depleted species at all. Particularly turtles, rays and sharks. If we manage our ocean areas better, we will see more stocks not fewer but the fishing of depleted and endangered species can serious damage stocks as well as tourism. And it’s just a really 5 hit ty thing to do.

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