SAVE OUR MANGROVES – TAKE A STAND
The BVI Fisherpersons Association recently organized a public forum at the East End Community Centre where attendees were urged to "stand up" and protest the Beef Island Golf & Country Club Resort – which, if built, will be the largest private development in the BVI. Conservationists and BVI residents joined in against the development of a golf course in an environmentally protected area by chanting, "Take a stand, take a stand." Former Legislative Council speaker, Keith Flax stated, "I’m prepared to join any group at anytime to prevent this development from happening. I’m one that will stand on the front line. We need to stand up. We cannot let the dollar bill be our sign. We cannot continue to see our country taken away from us.” The audience wildly applauded showing strong support against the development.
Chief Conservation Officer Bertrand Lettsome is equally concerned. Mr. Lettsome showed slides of sea-grass, coral reefs and mangroves that, if the project receives final approval from the BVI government, could pave the way for a golf course and marina. “Under current government regulations, Beef Island’s Hans Creek, where the resort is planned, is part of a fisheries protected area and is the last remaining mangrove system in the BVI. We do have a case and it should be up to our people," Mr. Lettsome said, as he pointed to a map of the Hans Creek area. He also stated that the government should listen to public input and reconsider the socio-economic implications of the project. In my opinion, just the fact that it is the last virginal mangrove system should be enough to halt the development.
BOATING SAFETY WEEK WELCOMED BY THE CHIEF MINISTER
Dr. D. Orlando Smith, BVI Chief Minister, recently opened Boating Safety Week as a tool to reduce accidents at sea. He warmly endorsed the schedule of activities designed to enhance safe boating. According to Dr. Smith, the busy sailing channels in BVI waters make it important that safe boating is emphasized. “On a busy day our harbors may have as many as 12 cargo ship arrivals, three cruise liners, over 1000 yachts and pleasure boats, and regular passenger ferries. Due to the high level of sea traffic there is potential for accidents that could cause injury to persons and pollution of our fragile marine ecosystem. Measures must be implemented to reduce or eliminate those risks.”
The theme of Boating Safety Week is “Boat Smart from the Start” and demonstrates the government’s seriousness about safety. Dr. Smith continued, “Boating Safety Week provides us with a good time to reflect on the importance of the seas and of marine transportation to our lives. As BVIslanders our connection with the seas span over many generations.”
Boating Safety Week was celebrated as a way of acquainting the public with the work of the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (VISR), and was coordinated by that newly established Government department. Activities for the week included an international safety management course and an international ship and port facility security code course for boat captains and crew members. Other events were a boating safety fair, an open house, presentations to several primary schools, and a career day event at the BVI High School.
The Virgin Islands Shipping Registry falls under the Chief Minister’s Office and seeks to ensure that Virgin Islands ships can safely, securely, and efficiently enjoy the seas and the support of a vigorous and effective maritime administration.
BVICCHA RECOGNIZES BEST YACHTING BUSINESSES
Congratulations to Foxy’s Tamarind Bar & Restaurant for receiving the “Pioneer of the Year Award” and to Louis Schwartz, Jolly Roger Inn, Home of the West End Yacht Club, for receiving the “Business Person of the Year Award” by the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association. The awards were given recently at the BVI’s Best of Business 18th Annual Awards Dinner. We, in the yachting community, are very proud of both Foxy and Lou. Way to go guys!!