Information Coming From A Selection Of Resources As Well As Totally Complimentary Business Intelligence Tools – The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources () Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) has an extensive data collection program on the commercial fisheries of the USVI. However, recreational fisheries are also important to the local economy, culture and recreation. To protect and maintain our fisheries, DFW has begun collecting data on our vital recreational fisheries.
In 2017, a recreational fishing report form was developed and distributed to the recreational fishing community to begin collecting information on fishing activities and landings. Along with our ongoing data collection at more than 10 annual sportfishing tournaments in the Territory, this has increased what is known about the local recreational fishery.
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We need your help! We have created an online form to make it easier for recreational anglers to report their catches We ask that all anglers submit this voluntary report each time you go fishing as part of the recreational fishing license program. This survey collects information about your fishing trip, your vessel and your catch Your data will remain confidential and contribute to better management of our fisheries, supporting their sustainability for future generations.
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The current VI recreational fisheries project allows DFW to further expand our data collection and analysis efforts, involving online reporting and paper logbooks that are available to frequent fishermen and fishing charter operations. The report form can be accessed at the web link here or by using the quick response (QR) code below.
As part of the USVI Fish Aggregate Device Program, the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife along with the Dolphinfish Research Program (DRP) (http://dolphintagging.com/) and the Beyond Our Shores Foundation (https://beyondourshores.org/). ) to expand their dolphinfish tagging program to the US Virgin Islands. Plastic dart tags are distributed to volunteer recreational, charter and commercial fishermen to participate in the program. Anglers tag dolphinfish they catch near USVI fish aggregating devices (FADs), record the length of the fish, and safely release the fish back into the water. Anglers submit tagging locations and related information to the Dolphinfish Research Program and off our coast. Anglers who catch a fish that has already been tagged can submit a recapture report at https://beyondourshores.org/report-recapture/. This important program helps collect information on dolphinfish movements, ranges and recreational fishing activities in the Caribbean and the wider Atlantic region.
If you are based in the USVI and would like to participate in the Dolphinfish Tagging Program, contact us to receive a free tagging kit.
The U.S. Virgin Islands have a very active recreational fishery known for inshore and offshore fishing. Targeted species range from large pelagics and billfish (wahoo, dolphinfish, tunas, blue marlin, white marlin) to coastal pelagics (king mackerel, serro mackerel, barracuda, jack), and reef fish (grouper, snapper, triggerfish, and more). The USVI recreational fishery consists of inshore fisheries, personal use vessels, and charter operations.
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“Recreational fishing” is defined as “fishing or fishing activities that result in the harvest of fish, none (or part thereof) of which is sold, traded, or sold” (50 CFR 622.2). Catch by recreational fishermen. , sale, or trade is prohibited. The following gear types are considered commercial gear and may not be used by recreational fishermen: pots, nets, and seines.
A number of sportfishing tournaments are held each year in the US Virgin Islands. The tournament is organized by local fishing clubs and organizations such as the Virgin Islands Game Fish Club, Golden Hook Fishing Club, Virgin Islands for Veterans (VI4Vets) and the Northside Sportfishing Club.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife serves as the weighmaster for many of these tournaments For each fish landed, we identify the species, weigh the fish and measure the fish’s hook length. We collect fishing effort data including fishing area, number of anglers, time of fishing, type of gear used and more. Species targeted in tournaments include inshore pelagics (eg, Kingfish Shootout, Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament), offshore pelagics (eg, Wahoo Windup, Dolphin Derby), and shallow water gamefish and reef fish (eg, St. Thomas Spearfishing Tournament).
The objective of the Fisheries Cooperative Statistics Program (CSP) is to maintain a territorial and federal partnership to collect fisheries-dependent statistics in support of fisheries management following the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation Management Act. Program objectives include:
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As part of the CSP program, DFW conducts fishery-dependent sampling (also called “port sampling” or “creel surveys”) by measuring commercial catches and interviewing fishermen. During these surveys, DFW staff meet with fishermen at various fishing ports on the islands to collect information about the fishermen’s catch. We identify, measure and weigh individual fish and lobsters in our catch We also interview fishermen to collect gear and gear information, including fishing time (soak time), fishing area, type of gear used, landing location, and crew size. These surveys enhance our understanding of commercial fisheries by collecting more detailed data than what fishermen report on their commercial catch report forms (CCRs).
Weekly sampling is done Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m Sampling is also done on a scheduled basis for fishermen who return to their port in the morning, late at night or at weekends. This facilitates the collection of data that is representative of the entire commercial fishery The data is entered into an online database maintained by NOAA Fisheries From this data, we can derive valuable metrics including annual landings; Landings by district, port and month; and mode of gear use or fishing effort
The Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program – Caribbean (SEAMAP-C) provides efficient and effective data collection of fisheries-independent sampling. The goals of the study were to 1) understand finfish population structure composition and 2) recruitment of queen conch and Caribbean spiny lobsters.
The program, in coordination with Puerto Rico’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources, allows for the coordination of a five-year study to collect information on finfish, queen conch and Caribbean spiny lobster populations. Sampling methods use both active and passive techniques, including camera video arrays, longlines, and handline fishing. Sampling occurs at random depths within stratified habitats and territorial waters and within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the US Virgin Islands. Data collected in this program inform management decisions made by local and federal resource managers at the Caribbean Branch of the NOAA Southeast Science Fisheries Center.
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In DFW’s lab, fish are processed to measure fork/total length, total weight, gut weight, sex, gonad stage and gonad weight. Workers also remove otoliths from fish Otoliths are bony structures made of calcium carbonate located in the inner ear that aid fish in hearing, balance, and orientation. Every year a new layer of bone is added to the otolith Like the growth rings of trees, counting the bands of otoliths provides an estimate of the fish’s age
The Interjurisdictional Fisheries Project supports projects “(1) to promote and encourage State activities in support of interjurisdictional resource management and (2) to promote the management of fisheries resources funded by NOAA Fisheries. Meanwhile, the IJ project supports SEAMAP-C by acquiring environmental data at finfish, queen conch, and spiny lobster sampling sites.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife improves and repairs public boating access facilities in the region and is a voting member of the States Association of Boating Access (SOBA). Ongoing operations include maintenance of three boat ramps and dock facilities in St. Croix, one boat ramp facility in St. Thomas, and temporary repairs in St. Thomas. These projects have an external component to engage the community and solicit feedback and input on the location of accessible facilities, safe use of facilities, and every step of the project.
The mission of the U.S. Virgin Islands Boating Access Program is to plan, construct, and improve boating access facilities on St. Croix and St. Thomas. On St. Croix, two boat ramps and one dock are free to use and open to the public These facilities are located in Frederiksted, Altoona Lagoon, and Gallows Bay On St. Thomas, there is a public boat access at Hull Bay on the north side of the island
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Transient mooring buoys provide many benefits to the recreational boating community and the marine environment Anchoring of ships damages sensitive sea grasses and corals, which serve as essential fish habitat. Mooring fields eliminate the need for boaters to anchor while providing a safe, convenient option for securing their vessels. Moorings can reduce erosion of seagrass and other benthic habitats and promote recovery from any permanent scarring or other damage.
Christmas Cove, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, is located within the St. James Marine Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary. Christmas Cove has complex seagrass habitat and federally protected reefs
Species The area experiences heavy use by both local and visiting recreational boaters, snorkelers, SCUBA divers and swimmers. To help preserve this sensitive habitat, a US Fish and Wildlife Service Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) supported the installation of a mooring field.
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