BVI News

No resources to police illegal fishing, says Chief Fisheries Officer

The Department of Conservation and Fisheries has said they do not have adequate resources to police illegal fishing in the BVI and that at-sea patrols have not happened since about 2016.

Acting Chief Conservation Officer Kelvin Penn revealed this when he appeared before the 2019 Standing Finance Committee (SFC) in April.

According to a subsequent SFC report published this month, Penn had said: “Due to budgetary constraints, the monies to maintain both [our] vessels were not there and the ability to patrol has been lost over two to three years now. They used to conduct surveillance with the marine patrol from the Police and Customs but that came to a halt.”

He also said that since the 1997 enactment of the Fisheries Act, which gives the portfolio minister the authority to allow prohibited methods of fishing for a certain period of time, only two persons were prosecuted.

He told the SFC that those prosecutions occurred from the neighbouring US Virgin Islands.

“One of the men couldn’t pay the fine of $30,000.00 and spent six months in prison. Since the relationship between the USVI and BVI, the penalties were reduced and stands at a maximum fine of $15,000,” the report from Penn said.

BVI Fishing laws

BVI fishing laws only permit commercial fishing and mandate that only BVIslanders and Belongers can fish in the territory’s waters.

The law further states that persons must have a BVI Commercial Fishing licence to engage in the activity.

Certain techniques such as spearfishing are also prohibited in the territory. And according to a 2018 BVI News interview with Penn, 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.

Back in November 2018, the Conservation and Fisheries Department had issued a statement ordering charter boat captains and their guests to ‘cease and desist’ from harvesting spiny lobsters from the local seabed.

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19 Comments

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  1. hmmm says:

    yet we can have three policemen on one school waving traffic around… The health of our marine environment is key to the second pillar of our economy, to the welfare of our people yet we allow raw sewage pumped in, people to catch endangered species, before we even had a dolphin prison that is squarely against our interests. We do need to take this more seriously but it’s not only a policing issue; we ought to be our brother’s keeper and make sure we are not allowing family, friends, neighbours to mess up.

    Like 14
    Dislike 2
  2. true says:

    This agency is a joke I called them in regard to Lobsters being taken after close of season, only to be threatened by the guy that he woulkdcome and inspect my place and to mind my own business and these are the people who are supposed to enforce the laws.

    Like 13
    • Skinny says:

      You is correct. I have been that place 3 times to apply and do all paperwork. Til now nobody even call me back. I go fishing anyhow cuz them is a waste of time.

    • Rubber Duck says:

      The BVI should have a thriving fishing industry. It does not.

      That is the government’s fault.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps there needs pay overhaul of this archaic law. Perhaps fishing both as an industry and an attraction for Tourism is in order. This will bolster the economy in many ways. A concert for one night does little. Issuing licenses and collecting fees for game fishing is a continuous income source. Visitors who wish to fish just end up going over to USVI. Why not keep the income in the Territory

    • true says:

      you have little to no knowlegde of the industry. When it states only commercial boats may fish this was implemented so all charter yachts had to be registered as fishing boats, tourists still get fishing licences.

      Tourists cannot take Lobsters or Conch only BVIslanders, and too much conch was taken last season s there is none this season.

      • @true says:

        Really!!! So where are all the charter fishing boats stationed? Travel over to the USVI and there are hundreds. Here there are none. Your knowledge is limited to possibly your a*****e

  4. Anonymous says:

    Can someone please enlighten me as I am not sure if this means that it is illegal for one to stand on a rock somewhere and cast his line as well.

  5. Its only me says:

    Can some please enlighten me as I am nut sure if it illegal for one to stand on the rocks and cast his/her line.

  6. wondering! says:

    Can some please enlighten me as I am nut sure if it illegal for one to stand on the rocks and cast his/her line.

  7. Just Ice says:

    Seems like this enforcement is targeted wrong.The problem is not locals out catching potfish or some dad taking his kids fishing in a dinghy but the line of big Sportfish boats heading up the North drop between St Thomas and Anegada doing fishing charters and making good money without clearing in or paying anything.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Florida is the worst

  9. Neil Taylor says:

    Florida is the worst

  10. Buff-baff says:

    It is not illegal to fish off the rocks or a dock. However, once you will be fishing from anything that floats (even a tube or log) you are required to obtain a fishing permit. Now anyone who owns a boat knows that it takes money to keep a boat running. Fuel and maintenance will demand money. It puzzles me how all these little fellows can out and maintain their boats to run around and have fun, while our government finds it a financial burden to equip our enforcement vessels that supposed to protect our marine resources and our border security. Government finds money for all sorts of costly consultancies to “advise” government when the permanent secretaries and senior staff members are equipped to provide that same advice at no additional cost. Pure politricks.

  11. No nonsense says:

    We bvilanders are our WORST enemies. A boat was supplied and the owners(workers) used it for personal use. Just like a beach warden truck ALWAYS at local bars on the north side till late at nights. That’s what we do….cause its our tax money. Shooting ourselves in the foot!!!

  12. Boat owner says:

    The guys that fish in small boats are down island guys catching pot fish. This harm no one. Leave these men alone. Most make $6 an hour and have to pay nutty rents. We don’t need more fancy gov workers to bust on the people that really do the work around here!

  13. Problem says:

    The real problem is the amount of lobster and fish traps that are lost weekly. There is no accountability and thousands sit on the seabed floor lost forever and essentially killing the marine life.
    But is ok because they are Belongers.

  14. Charter Broker says:

    As of 2020, the BVI Fisheries Department is no longer accepting fishing license applications nor the $45 Fee from tourists wanting to fish from Crewed Yachts in the BVI. Its reported that at least 40 Fishing applications over the past holiday season were simply ignored and never issued. Charter Yachts in the territory must be licensed as well, but those licenses are no longer being issued as well. Brokers were told in November this was due to a misunderstanding that Yacht Captains were unaware they were required to report every fish caught in the territory, and since they failed to do so, the licenses were no longer being issued to any boat. Last Stop Sports stopped processing licenses for bareboat operations in March of 2019 due to “new regulations”. Unfortunately, no one seems to know what those new regulations are, and how hard working BVI Crew can comply with the law.

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