Commercial fisherman Danny Berry of St. Thomas got hit Wednesday with a ticket, called a citation in park talk, and a $500 fine for pot fishing inside Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument boundaries, Chief Ranger Lloyd Morris said Thursday.
“He had 14 pots total,” said Morris, who oversees protection activities in the monument and V.I. National Park, said the pots were a couple of hundred yards inside the monument’s boundaries in Hurricane Hole. Morris said Berry indicated he didn’t know he was inside the boundaries.
“We don’t believe that, of course,” Morris said. He said that Berry had located his pots using a Global Positioning System device, so it should be clear to him that he was inside the monument.
He said that Berry was aboard a 25-foot boat named Rosaly.
Berry got off easy, with just the citation and the fine, because it was the first time rangers had contact with him. However, the fine could reach $500 for each fish pot as well as the confiscation of the pots and the boat.
Berry was spotted by a park ranger who was patrolling on land across the water from the monument. Morris said that a park boat then headed to the monument from the park’s Cruz Bay headquarters.
“We caught up with the fisherman a couple of miles off shore just outside the boundary of the park,” Morris said.
According to Morris, rangers frequently pull up pots in monument waters.
No fishing of any type is allowed in the monument. Line fishing is allowed in the national park waters outside of swim zones, Morris said. Spearfishing is not allowed in either location, and Morris said the park confiscates spear guns when they catch someone. Spearfishing for lionfish is allowed by those with permits to catch them.
To report illegal fishing as well as other incidents, call the park at 776-6201 ext. 244, 246 or 254.