A two-week marine survey is currently being undertaken to assist government with making informed decisions in developing a blue economy for the BVI.
Speaking at a media conference on Wednesday, Natural Resource Minister Vincent Wheatley said this measure is a step in the right direction for the territory.
“This survey is going to inform how best to use these waters going forward … Everyone would say ‘let’s go ban the catching of turtles’. But there is actually no evidence for this to suggest what we should do with turtles. It also extends to November which is Lobster Fest. Persons would say ‘ban the catching of lobsters — you’re catching too many lobsters’ but there is no evidence to suggest that. This exercise is going to help us inform those kinds of decisions as far as our environment is concerned,” the minister said.
He added: “There are also lots of things like ghost traps on the ocean bottom that are killing fish after fish. This survey is going to help us find some, if not all of them so we can make a decision on what is the best material to make traps from.”
Wheatley further said government is trying to move to an ‘exclusive economic zone’.
He did not expound on what an exclusive economic zone means but said, “to get that category, you must know what it is you are going to manage and explore and you must demonstrate the capacity to monitor and control that space. Something as simple as shipwrecks, there are dozens of shipwrecks around here which can be used for commercial purposes once you know where they are, the depth of water, what’s in and around them and so forth.”
In the meantime, it is said the ongoing survey will be able to provide actual maps of the underwater habitats that comprise the Virgin Islands.
The marine survey is a partnership between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) which provided the funding in the sum of $145,000, the Recovery and Development Agency which is responsible for managing the funds, the National Oceanography Centre, and the Ministry of Natural Resource and Labour.
The survey ends on Friday July 5.
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