Coastal Waters

In recent years we have seen the federal government, through the U.S. Park Service, slowly erode the use of our waters and recreation areas. Expanding no fishing zones and using draconian methods to harass our fishermen has not only hindered these native fishermen in their ability to make a living, but has also taken a bite out of the charter fishing business catering to the visitors to our beautiful islands. Just these past few months, the U.S. Park Service has proposed regulations and restrictions upon the use of Buck Island, St. Croix, a traditional recreation and relaxation spot for Virgin Islanders and tourists alike. While we welcome the National Parks in our Territory and appreciate the efforts of the Park Service to provide safe and comfortable areas, the over-zealous attitude to protect the environment and ecology is negatively impacting the people who have enjoyed these areas for generations. A prime example of this is the protection of the Lionfish over the livelihood of our Virgin Islands fishermen. There must be a balance and people must not be forgotten or set aside. Our residents and visitors want to visit and play at Buck Island, not just look at a picture taken from far away. The charters that bring people to Buck Island to play and relax rely upon this resource for their income, not to mention the ancillary businesses that thrive from the visitors to the National Parks in our Territory. Fishing in the Virgin Islands is not just commercial, it is also cultural.

As your Delegate, I will establish a proactive dialogue with the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Park Service to address the issues that affect not just the enjoyment of our residents and visitors, but also those areas of concern for our economy and the livelihood of those that rely upon these natural resources.