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Territory-wide protected areas expanding — Wheatley

Vincent Wheatley

Natural Resources Minister Vincent Wheatley said the number of protected areas in the British Virgin Islands is about to expand.

Addressing Tuesday’s sitting of the House of Assembly, the minister said it is a way to conserve the valuable natural areas in the territory.

“The Virgin Islands has uniquely placed the protection of natural areas as part of our development strategy. However, the last declared National Park was Sandy Cay, which was protected in 2008 by the late Honourable Ralph T O’Neal, OBE, our first Premier,” Wheatley said.

He continued: “Our approach for protecting lands and waters is a comprehensive one, as we include both national parks and fisheries areas into the framework of protection: we aspire to ensure the sustainable use of our resources to meet our needs.”

Wheatley further said, the Andrew Fahie-led administration intends to build on the foundation laid by its predecessors and in so doing, “expand the network of protected areas to safeguard our livelihoods and those natural and cultural features which are uniquely ours while we build resilience to the impacts of climate change”.

In the meantime, Wheatley said he intends to bring areas to the fore that were previously approved by the Cabinet for ‘final endorsement’. 

“Areas previously approved on Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke under both the National Parks and Fisheries Acts will be formally declared. We also intend to add new areas by finalising the declaration of Great Thatch Island, Smuggler’s Cove and Belmont Estate, the mangroves at Hodge’s Creek and Bar Bay and Long Bay, Beef Island,” he stated.

“These areas encompass Caribbean dry forests, mangroves and salt ponds, which stabilise our coastlines, provide for our food security by serving as hatcheries and nurseries for juvenile fish and filter runoff from our hillsides while maintaining our crystalline waters,” the minister added.

No anchoring zones

Wheatley further said to state there will be new ‘no anchoring zones’ in selected areas in the territory.

While he did not mention the areas, he said: “These areas, also enhance the tourism product and serve as a reminder to the world that the Virgin Islands aspires to continue to protect our natural environment.”

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10 Comments

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  1. Human Fish says:

    If one was fortunate enough to swim from Town Bay, to Devils Bay from 1965 up to before the huge incrase in unregulated anchoring, one would have seen pristene underwater forestry with abundant life of all forms.

    Fast forward to 1989 and onwards, the entire area mentioned was turned into a dead coral, sand stone and no evident life of fauna or fish. And so it is today.

    For example, a specially colored “buffle Head” was caught and or seen primarily between Fort Point and Devil’s Bay. It has not been seen since the 1980’s. Turtles used to come to and lay from Trunk to Devil’s. Not anymore. Their food has disappeared due to degredation caused by anchorage, so they come no more, increased staggering boating traffic and population increase notwithstanding.

    Hence, those of us who have witnessed the degredation of our underwater environment, now know the critical value of restoring and maintaing our natural underwater resources.

    Stands to reason then, the “no anchoring zones” is a timely piece of legislation beneficial to the restoration, regrowth and sustainability of our underwater environment.

    The generation born in the 1950’s, in particular, swam insessantly throughout those areas, so it has seen the bounty and now the desert.

    Like 14
    • BuzzBvi says:

      Do not forget Turtles are more affected by land deveopment and use of beaches than loss of food. Turtles eggs are not being laid as the areas that are developed and turtles are fished/netted and caught on a regular basis.

  2. Diaspora says:

    Some countries have gold, others have black gold and other have blue gold. The sea is the VI’s blue gold and it must be protected. It is the major attraction for tourism, I/2 of the economic twin pillars. In addition to its recreational purposes, it is also a source of food, ie, fish, conchs, whelks……etc. The territory must have protected areas for biodiversity conservation. These protected areas are the habitat for threatened and endangered species that must be protected.

    These areas must be protected and preserved for the use and enjoyment of current generations and generations yet unborn. Protecting and preserving environmental and natural resources must be a balance between environmental and economic needs. Today, it is a draw for tourists and serves a food source, as well as recreation, but if is not protected, in time, it will not be able to meet its intended purpose.

    Like 13
  3. HAND IN DE BUSH says:

    IT IS ALL VERY WELL MAKING LAWS TO PROTECT BUT YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME IF YOU DONT ENFORCE……
    LOOK AT LAST YEARS CONCH AND LOBSTER CLOSE SEASON.. FESTIVAL WAS FULL OF LOBSTER AND CONCH SELLING.. BIG RESTURANTS SHRUGGED THEIR SHOULDERS WHEN ASKED…. ENFORCE.ENFORCE. ENFORCE.

  4. strupes says:

    dem white boys done got he a**licking

  5. buckra says:

    strupes-
    dis white biy got education and long life in bvi. your comment is your title if you don’t realize how quick 1/2 of economy could wither from wrecking the one resource bvi have exclusivity on, its beauty.

  6. Greed is a Killer says:

    Having grown up on Virgin Gorda, I’m in agreement with the comments about the colors and pristineness of the water, sea life and variety of fish previously known to areas around Virgin Gorda. True, the population was a lot smaller during the 50s. Whelks were a lot bigger and lots more abundant. A fish type known as “Rainbow, usually 3 or 4 together were regularly seen in a variety of areas and grew to as much as 3 feet has practically gone extinct as they aren’t any longer seen.. The Rainbow fish was much larger but was the same color and appearance as the already mentioned “Buffle Head and Parrot fish” family. They used to come close to shore, apparently feeding off the coral reefs. Areas such as the South Sound and around Oil Nut Bay were some of the Rainbow areas. They have since either gone extinct or found other less disturbed areas.

    The other areas of protection the Hon Minister must protect are our Sea Beds. In the North Sound, Virgin Gorda area around the recently opened YCCS (Yacht Club Costa Smeralda) was badly damaged during the 2017 hurricanes. Quite a number of races were being put on with yachts coming from afar; real racers. It is understood that the owners of YCCS were/are ready and intent on repairing, restoring the property; including floating docs etc. However it is alleged that [a] developer holds a lease on the seabed around the docks and entrance to YCCS and has become a hinderance to YCCS’s restoration. Seabed leases must be discontinued; especially to individuals or businesses who already owns land

  7. Virgin Gorda says:

    Watch out for that BAN ON ANCHORING. It is just more rich guys locking out the rest of us from their beaches. I hear all that noise is coming from Oil Nut Bay (just another way to fence off the beach). VIP please stand up to this nonsense!

  8. Frigup says:

    Too many boats now. Too much anchoring because mooring balls are nowhere sufficient – and that includes National Park balls. It’s time to decrease the amount of charter boats – to save the BVI. Put up the fees to stop the deluge. The govt. makes money and the environment is helped and able to recuperate

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