July 9, 2002 – Spiny lobster larvae, the beginnings of the local delicacy known commonly as langouste, came under the scrutiny of the Senate Planning and Environmental Protection Committee on Monday.
The Planning and Natural Resources Department's Fish and Wildlife Division was seeking a minor Coastal Zone Management permit — which the committee approved. Barbara Kojis, division director, explained that the permit was needed to conduct a study to determine whether there have been any changes in the replenishment patterns of the spiny lobsters. Similar studies were done in 1992-1994 and 1997-1998, she said.
Speaking from her office Tuesday morning, Kojis said the permit also allows the division to set up spiny lobster habitats the size of concrete blocks in an area south of the island of Little St. James off St. Thomas's East End. There are no natural habitats at the site, Kojis said, but she believes food resources there could attract juvenile lobsters and thus augment the present population.
The habitats will be in 60 feet of water, she said, so "nobody will see them unless they know they are there."
To study "larval recruitment," as the scientists call the delivery of larvae that replenish adult populations on reefs, adult lobster tracking devices will be set up at five sites in the Southeast St. Thomas Marine Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuaries. These will be monitored biweekly, Kojis said, and she hopes the study will provide insights into population changes in the crustaceans.
Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole, the committee chair, and Sen. Carlton Dowe showed videos to illustrate another CZM permit application and a lease request on the day's agenda.
After much legal sparring between Yvonne Tharpes, legislative legal counsel, and CZM attorney Julita De Leon, the committee voted to hold a minor CZM permit sought by Barbara Harris and heirs of the Israel Blumenberg family to rebuild a dock at Chocolate Hole on St. John. Tharpes said the application was not properly signed, while De Leon said, "We are simply renewing the permit, and it only allows for the occupancy of the submerged land, nothing else."
The committee decided to give the applicants until its next meeting, set for July 25, to get the needed signatures in place.
The lease-related video showed government property at Crown Bay where Amalia Car Rental Inc. had applied for a 10-year lease to build a car-rental agency. The property is now in disrepair and will be cleaned up, the senators were told. They approved the lease.
The committee also approved a 20-year government lease to Tip Top Construction of St. Croix of land where the company plans to build a staging area and offices.
Committee members attending the meeting were Sens. Cole, Roosevelt David, Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg and Dowe. Sens. Adelbert Bryan and Celestino A. White Sr. were absent; Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen was excused.

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