86.8 F
Cruz Bay
Thursday, July 25, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesWhat Happens When the Fish Are Gone, the Reefs Dead?

What Happens When the Fish Are Gone, the Reefs Dead?

Dear Source:
I feel that the term commercial diver misrepresents the situation. These are pirates. They are on island illegally. They are not trained as divers by an accredited certification agency. They have been illegally poaching conch during the moratorium. They have been illegally gill netting. They follow no rules or laws. It is clearly piracy.
I am a dive instructor and actively involved with REEF, a non for profit organization that collects data on fish species and abundance through volunteer surveys. I have conducted surveys at numerous dive sites over the past two years. Many essential species are absent or in extremely low numbers. Mature parrot fish are rare due to the excessive pressure from the commercial fisherman. Parrot fish are a key species in maintaining a healthy reef system. Lobster, which should be seen in large numbers, are a high point of a dive when found due to their absence. Nassau grouper, Tiger grouper, Blue parrot fish, and Hogfish are on the brink of extinction in our waters.
Dr. Olsen wants to regulate gill netting. How can he propose to regulate gill netting, when they have failed at maintaining the current regulations for the fishing industry. Conch have been available at every fish market through out the moratorium, and to the best of my knowledge no arrests were made. Fisherman routinely place fish pots and gill nets with in the boundaries of the Salt River National Park which is an ecological preserve protected by federal law. Regulation can only occur with an active and effective enforcement division.
Fish and Wildlife in association with DPNR establishing management regulations for the fishing industry is the only way to save our reefs. No take zones, species limits, size requirements, and bycatch management are necessary for an effective management plan. Unfortunately, regulations are useless without enforcement.
Mr. Martinez states that "But it's the risk you have to take". The Open Water diver courses, as well as all other continuing education courses, are designed to instruct the diver on how to limit the risks associated with diving. Upon competition of the course, the new diver is required to sign a statement of safe diving practices which states "Make all dives no decompression dives and allow a margin of safety." How can any amount on money be worth so blatantly violating standards which are designed to insure your safety and keep you alive?
True commercial divers are required to take extensive training to educate them in the theories and practices of decompression diving. Through the use of decompression diving practices such as the use of mixed gases, gases that are a mixture of oxygen, nitrogen and helium in order to lower your nitrogen exposure, they are able to work at great depths for an extended period of time and safely return to the surface. They take great care in planing and staging their decompression time as they ascend. Such training is available to our fisherman.
If the piracy of our reefs is not stopped, this resource will not be around in the next ten to twenty years. How will the fisherman make a living when the fish are all gone and the reefs are dead?

Kevin Culp
Christiansted, St. Croix

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

Previous article
Next article