I8 Te Daily NevswnFriday, Marchr 7,1997
Islands' future may be right below the surface
This is the International Year of
the Coral Reef and countries around
the world, including the Caribbean,
are taking steps to protect coral
reefs as an important environmental
and economic resource.
The coral reef within the ocean
ecosystem works like a rain forest.
It is vital to marine plants and ani-
mal life, but also to life on land.
You see, when God created the
world, he joined land and sea in an
environmental marriage. Neither
can exist without the other, but man
in his ignorance still thinks other-
Alexander Stone, president or
Reef Keeper International in
Miami, wrote a letter to Gov. Roy
L Schneider requesting help to sutat
a U.S. Virgin Islands Coral Reef
Initiative program. The Virgin
Islands economy will benefit from
such a program because internation-
al coral ref scientists would begin
monitoring our reefs.
The letter got right to the point.
"Dear friends of the US. Virgin
Islands coral reefs: I am writing to
you because we need the people of
the U.S. Virgin Islands to help us
start a U.S. Virgin Islands Coral
Reef Initiative. We have written
many letters to the governor's
office in the past several months
requesting a U.S. Virgin Islands
Coral Reef Initiative. The gover-
nor's office has ignored every sin-
gle one of our attempts and does not
seem to have any future plans to
help protect the coral reefs of the
U.S. Virgin Islands.
The letter further stated, "On
April 5, well over six months ago.
we respectfully asked Gov. Roy
Lester Schneider to develop and
adopt an official policy document
for a U.S. Virgin Islands Coral Reef
Initiative, as has already been done
for American Samoa, Hawaii and
many other U.S. coral reef areas by
their state-level governments.
"If you are not aware, the U.S.
Virgin Islands Coral Reef Initiative
will help further protect coral reefs
found within the waters of the US.
Virgin Islands by implementing a
three-pronged program of resource
management capacity-building and
public awareness, research and
monitoring of reef conditions, and
coastal zone management respon-
sive to coral reef environmental
I believe this is an opportunity
where international scientists are
willing to give their expertise to our
government in the area of reef ecol-
ogy and how vital the coral reef
ecosystem is to a stable economy.
We must remember that our ccono-
my base on tourism.
Sometimes I wonder Ais gov-
ernment has its bead in the sand
when it comes to protecting our
environment and developing a
Believe me, the Virgin Islands
dirty politics hinder us. As a people,
we-can move these islands forward
in a productive way instead of fuss-
ing and fighting among ourselves.
When we talk about economical
development, we should look at it
from a holistic approach.
That means every integral part
of the environment is imponant to a
balanced economy. So resources as
coral reef should not be taken light-
The Virgin Islands, especially
SL Croix, arc surrounded by coral
Our coral reefs attract millions
of tourists every year.
But coral reefs also are impor-
tant producers of sand for natural
and man-made beach cover and for
As such, coral reefs represent
one of the islands' few naturally
replaceable resources available for
Coral reefs also provide protec-
tion for our shorelines harbors and
Furthermore, the reefs provide
perhaps the largest portion of our
seafood presently harvested in the
Many people in these islands do
not realize that most species of fish
consumed locally either live on reef
or depend on them in some measure
for their food.
Such popular seafood as lobsters
are taken primarily from reef areas.
Living coral reefs in the Virgin
Islands deserve our concerned inter-
In the Virgin Islands, we now
have several miles of dead reefs and
bays with impoverished flora and
fauna as a result of poorly planned
and managed dredging operations.
As a people, we can force
Schneider hands to adopt a Virgin
Islands Coral Reef Initiative pro-
gram by writing thousands of letters
After all, we the people put him
Also, you can contact Reef
Keeper International at (305) 356-
4600, Fax (305) 358-3030, or e-
mail at reefintl @ aol. com as a sup-
porter for Virgin Islands Coral Reef
Olasee Dvi, who has a master
of science degree in range manage-
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