Information Officer II
Department of Information & Public Relations
The public is notified that scuba diving and spearfishing for marine animals such as turtles, whelks, conchs, lobsters or any other marine species and products is prohibited.
The Virgin Islands Fisheries Act, 1997 section 50 (1) states, “Subject to section 35 (2), no person shall use any speargun, self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) diving equipment, explosive, poison or other noxious substance for fishing in the fishery waters.”
Director for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr. Theodore E. James, while quoting section 50 (2) of the Fisheries Act, 1997 stated that if these items are found on a vessel, it will be presumed that persons intended to fish in the fishery waters unless the contrary is proved.
Regarding enforcement and legal proceedings, Mr. James indicated that according to section 63 (a) of the Act, “A person who uses any speargun, self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) diving equipment, explosive, poison or other noxious substance in contravention of section 50 (1), commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding fifteen thousand dollars.”
The Director further expressed the importance of adhering to the closed season for specific fish. The closed seasons for specific fish are as follows:
- Margate – January 1 – March 31
- Red Hind – January 1 to March 31
- Nassau Grouper – March 1 to May 31
- Turtle – April 1 to November 30
- Lobster – July 31 to October 31
- Conch and Whelk - August 15 to October 31
In addition, The Virgin Islands Fisheries Regulations, 2003 Section 51 (5) provides a schedule declaring certain areas to be protected. Fishing is therefore prohibited in the following areas:
- Horseshoe Reef;
- Hans Creek, Beef Island;
- Beef Island Channel;
- South Sound, Virgin Gorda;
- Taylor Bay, Virgin Gorda;
- The Sound, Salt Island;
- The Sound (which includes Wedgeo Bay) Ginger Island;
- Dead Chest;
- Big Reef, Peter Island;
- Green Cay, Jost Van Dyke;
- Money Bay, Norman Island;
- Santa Monica Rock, South West off Norman Island;
- North Bay, Guana Island; and
- Frenchman’s Cay
The public is cautioned to respect and adhere to the Virgin Islands Fisheries Act, 1997 and the Virgin Islands Fisheries Regulations, 2003.
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries aims to ensure that food is safe, nutritionally sound, produced and harvested in an environmentally sustainable manner that builds resilience to internal and external shocks while contributing to economic growth, social well-being and protection of the natural environment.