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VI now equipped to track conch & whelk depletion & other changes in sea

- As Gov’t seeks to build sustainable environment
Personnel from the Department of Natural Resources, National Parks Trust, Survey, Environmental Unit, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Shipping Registry have been trained to use equipment to gather and analyse data in the marine environment. Photo: VINO
The gathering of data for various environmental issues, including the depletion of conch and whelks among other serious environmental changes in the sea, is now possible with the acquisition of key equipment by Government. Photo: conchpearls.com
The gathering of data for various environmental issues, including the depletion of conch and whelks among other serious environmental changes in the sea, is now possible with the acquisition of key equipment by Government. Photo: conchpearls.com
Outgoing Chief Executive Officer of the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency (RDA), Mr Paul D. Bayley, right, hands over the equipment to Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9), left, in the presence of Governor Augutus J. U. Jaspert. Photo: VINO
Outgoing Chief Executive Officer of the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency (RDA), Mr Paul D. Bayley, right, hands over the equipment to Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9), left, in the presence of Governor Augutus J. U. Jaspert. Photo: VINO
WICKHAMS CAY II, Tortola, VI- The gathering of data for various environmental issues, including the depletion of conch and whelks among other serious environmental changes in the sea, is now possible with the acquisition of key equipment by Government.

Teams from the Department of Natural Resources, National Parks Trust, Survey, Environmental Unit, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Shipping Registry have been trained to use the equipment. 

This is part of a capacity building initiative through collaboration among the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency (RDA), the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration.

The total budget for the project was approximately $230,000 of which the FCO funded over $146,000.

‘We should not take this lightly’

On Friday February 7, 2020 the RDA presented the equipment to the Government of the Virgin Islands.

The equipment was described as expensive and the handover marked a “Red Letter day” for the Territory’s marine sector, according to Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9).

Hon Wheatley highlighted that the training was done across departments for one specific purpose and “We should not take this lightly if we are going to build a sustainable environment, this is where we start in making that vision a reality.”

He expressed that now with the training and the equipment; they are now going to be moving forward with explorations to include the gathering of data for various environmental issues, including the depletion of conch, whelks among other serious obvious changes evident in the marine environment.

In December 2019 there was a call by several persons on Anegada for government to ban the fishing of the Anegada conch, over fears the conch population may be dwindling dangerously low.

All should get involved in environmental preservation- Hon Wheatley

“What this equipment lets us do is really track environmental changes over time, so we can see the impacts of our daily activities on the environment. It lets us know what is there so we can quantify it, so we can know what is there, so we can analyse it,” Hon Wheatley explained at the handing over ceremony.

He added, “Anybody that wants to do any impact studies of their development, this equipment here, lets us do that. What we are hoping to achieve in the long run, is to make the BVI a centre of excellence in marine survey studies,” Minister Wheatley further explained.

The legislator said it is important that the message of preserving the environment gets into all the schools, to boaters and others.

National strategy

Present also for the handing over was His Excellency Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert who said, “A little gem of a project actually turns into a national strategy.”

Complementing the parties involved, including the RDA, Governor Jaspert said the RDA works best when it is able to work very effectively with the Ministries, “and this is what we have seen in this example with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour and Immigration.

“I am delighted that what started as a project to map or survey our marine environment has turned into a project to do that, but also then turned into a project to build our capability, to build our equipment, to build our sustainability in this area as well and I know with the brilliance of the Ministry and the Minister and his leadership as well has turned into a wider project of how do we see the ocean as a resource, our seas as a resource,  our marine life as a resource.”

Outgoing Chief Executive Officer of the RDA Paul D. Bayley said that FCO for contributing more than half the value of the project total.

3-phase project

Giving an overview of the Project, Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour Joseph Smith-Abbot said that handing over the equipment to trained staff is phase two of a three-phase project.

He said the use of the equipment will “enable us to better understand the marine resource base, to understand change over time and to then harness that capacity to develop new industries and complement industries already established.”

8 Responses to “VI now equipped to track conch & whelk depletion & other changes in sea”

  • Congrats (10/02/2020, 12:37) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is an excellent initiative.
  • Just saying (10/02/2020, 14:22) Like (1) Dislike (4) Reply
    Hope Vincent not turning into another Kedrick saving the sharks while the people hungry
    • SMH (11/02/2020, 09:03) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      @just saying get out of here with your sick talk. HON Wheatley is doing what’s best for the environment and if it’s putting a ban on sharks, turtles etc it’s for a darn good reason. Some of you’ll too greedy and selfish. The ocean provides for you’ll for years and negatively taken advantage of it without putting love back into the ocean. I hope he do everything you mentioned Just to piss Ignorant people like you are off
    • SMH (11/02/2020, 13:39) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      @just saying people Hungry because it will put priorities in front. You’ll find money to buy the new phone for $800 but can’t find $12 to buy food!! People like deserve to starve due to your ignorance
  • Diaspora (10/02/2020, 15:27) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    The concerns about dwindling Anegada conchs have merit; the demand is exceeding supply and if urgent action is not taken, the supply can fall dangerously low and it may be depleted. What is evident here is a Tragedy of Commons situation that can manifest itself in depletion. Here is a Tragedy of Common definition(Wikipedia):
    “The tragedy of the commons is a situation in a shared-resource system where individual users, acting independently according to their own self-interest, behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling the shared resource through their collective action.” I’m guessing that any Anegada fisherman can go out and harvest many pounds of conchs that he/she wants and as the demand increases more and more conchs will be harvested. And without control, at this rate, it (conchs) will be eventually depleted. This is definitely a Tragedy of the Commons situation. Though the new equipment is worthwhile in collecting environmental data, to prevent the impending depletion of conchs, whelks......etc government needs to take more stringent proactive action now. To me the collected data is lagging indicator, not leading indicator data. And action is needed now.
  • Kingfish (10/02/2020, 16:51) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    The collection of data is great but useless until tough measures are put into place and enforced under penalty of law. Government should consider a freeze on the collection of conch and welks at least for 3 to 5 years which will give the species time to recover.
    We should be looking into the hiring of an experienced Marine Biologist to create a captive breeding program for conch and welks with the resulting juveniles being distributed through out the BVI.
  • huh (10/02/2020, 20:31) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    With all these haitian fishermen around here all will soon be gone
  • Quiet Rebel (10/02/2020, 23:26) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Diaspora and Kingfish are on point. As Diaspora noted, it is a Tragedy of the Commons situation, ie, the self-interest of a few will harm the interest of the many. Individual fisherman will just concern about his/herself and don’t give a rat’s ass about the health of the industry or the depletion of the supply. As Kingfish noted, a 3-5 year hard freeze is needs. Further, it is an non-excludable but not a non-rival environment. ie, no local fisherman can be excluded from harvesting and the harvesting by some can prevent others from harvesting.


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