22 The Daly News, Frday, September 6,1996
Chemicals threaten permanent marine destruction
FRw months ago, it was reported
in the media that hundreds of fish
were killed at Halfpenny Bay on the
south shore of St. Croix. This inci-
dent also occur at Sugar And Salt
River Bay areas on the northwest
side of the island. According to
reported from the Division of Fish
and Wildlife, bleach was possibly
dumped into the sea water by some-
one to harvest lobsters or octopus
from around the bay area.
The investigation of the fish kill
at Halfpenny Bay indicated that
there were no signs of net marks or
spear holes observed on fishes that
were found dead in the area. Also,
many of these species of fish are
consumed locally and several
species are associated with the red
environment in the surrounding bay
waters of Halfpcnney Bay.
This fish kill occurred during the
Easter season the report stated. A
fisherman at Halfpenny Bay beach
confirmed to one of DPNR enforce-
ment officer that bleach is used by
some individuals to harvest lobster.
For the Sugar and Salt River Bay
fish kill, it is possible that unwanted
catch from gill net was used in the
fishing activities in this area.
The Salt River Anchor Dive
Shop reported that during the Easter
camping activities numerous gill
nets were found in the area. Species
of fish killed at Halfpenney Bay
were redhand parotfish coney, pea-
cock flounder, porcupinefish, and
At Sugar and Salt River Bay
species were southern stingray, por-
cupinefish, and white-spotted file-
fish. The perpetrators of this crime
of killing fish do not realize that
dumping bleach will slowly kill the
reef and seagrass bed environment
that marine life depend on.
Hundreds of years ago, the Indi-
ans and enslaved Africans of St.
Croix employed a method of fish-
ing that used a bark from a tree
called dogwood. This tree bark had
a fragrance that caused the fish to
act crazy once they came in contact
with it in the water.
In the early 1900's and up to the
late 1960's, fishermen on SL Croix
fished along the south shore with-
out using bleach to catch lobsters.
The whole south coast of St. Croix
was a fishing ground particular
Camporico, Good Hope, Carlton,
and the Krauses lagoon where Hess
is located today.
Besi&e setting fishpots along the
shore, fishermen used a tree stem
shaped like a fork to catch lobsters.
In the 1700's, Reimert Haagensen
stated in his note book, "Lobsters
are available in abundance, but they
have to be caught at night. Armed
with a bright torch called a "flam-
boy" slaves go down to the beach at
night and walking along with this
torch, can pick the lobsters up with
their hands. This is easily done
because the lobster stay among the
large rocks near the beach."
The mangrove forest and fresh
water stream once dominated the
south shore of St. Croix ecosystem.
Marine life like sea turtles, lobsters,
octopus, crabs, and oysters where in
abundance. Reimert Haagensen said
in the 1700's slaves harvested large
oysters, but they were bigger and
delicate than those in Copenhagen.
As the south shore developed,
many species of marine life began
to disappear because of the alter-
ation of the south shore ecosystem.
in the 1960's. Hess Oil Refinery
and Harvey Aluminum Corp. were
built on the south shore which
destroyed and alter the mangrove
forest ecosystem forever.
Also, the Anguila dump, Cru-
cian Rum waste disposal on the
south shore and other developments
added to the decline of marine life
and increased beach deterioration.
Now. the recent assault on the south
shore bays is the dumping of
bleach. This will add to the slow
death of the reef environment.
If bleach continues to be the
mean of harvesting lobsters, most
of the south shore marine communi-
ty will disappear because the pres-
ence of other organisms are not
there to balance the marine environ-
Also, the surrounding reef
ecosystem of Halfpenny Bay would
be affected as well. The reef will
die and marine species that depend
upon the reef will disappear. In
reality, we will have a dead bay.
As a community, we can help by
calling DPNR on ST. Croix 773-
5774 and ST. Thomas 773-3320.
Olase Davim, whoholdsa master
of science degree in range manage
ment and forestry ecology, is a St.
Croi ecologist aivi and writer