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Title: 2004 opinion survey of U.S. Virgin Island marine researchers
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/CA01300945/00001
 Material Information
Title: 2004 opinion survey of U.S. Virgin Island marine researchers
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Messineo, Jennifer
Publisher: Bureau of Fisheries, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Planning and Natural Resources
Place of Publication: St. Croix, USVI
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: CA01300945
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Holding Location: University of the Virgin Islands
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
Full Text

2004 Opinion Survey of U.S. Virgin

Island Marine Researchers

Jennifer Messineo,
Emmy Smith,
K. Roger Uwate


Biological surveys are only one part of any assessment of fisheries and marine resources when
developing management strategies (Gordon and Uwate 2003). It is also important that the
opinions and insights of user groups be heard and considered. Without such input, assessment
and management of these resources would be incomplete.

In 2001, at the request of the St. Thomas/St. John Fisheries Advisory Committee, the Division of
Fish & Wildlife (DFW) completed an opinion survey of commercial fishers (see Uwate et al
2001). The results identified issues the user group views as problems and priorities.

In FY 2002, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service mandated that each state (and territory) develop a
strategic plan for fish and wildlife (see Gordon and Uwate 2003). In response to this mandate,
DFW initiated work on a U.S. Virgin Islands fish and wildlife strategic plan.

As part of this plan, user group opinions and insights were solicited and obtained through
opinion surveys. Opinion surveys were completed for commercial fishers as well as the marine
recreational industry in the U.S. Virgin Islands (Gordon and Uwate 2003). Later, an opinion
survey was conducted that targeted recreational fishing club members (see Messineo and Uwate

The above opinion surveys (for commercial and marine recreational industry, see Gordon and
Uwate 2003, and recreational fishing club members, see Messineo and Uwate 2004) did not
cover marine researchers unless they were part of the three user groups previously surveyed. In
order to gain insight into the opinions of locally based marine researchers, this survey was
initiated. This report documents the opinions of marine researchers based in the U.S. Virgin


The Universe The universe was defined as marine researchers that are based in the U.S. Virgin
Islands. This included staff at the following organizations: (1) Division of Fish & Wildlife, (2)
University of the Virgin Islands, (3) The Nature Conservancy, (4) The Ocean Conservancy, (5)
The National Park Service, (6) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and (7) private consultants.

An initial list of marine researchers was developed. It was passed to staff at the Bureau of
Fisheries, Division of Fish and Wildlife for review and additional names. A total of 37
individuals were identified.

The Questionnaire The questionnaire used in this survey was modified slightly from the ones
used in Gordon and Uwate (2003) and Messineo and Uwate (2004). The draft modified
questionnaire was reviewed by DFW staff.


The questionnaire was a single page so that it would not be a burden to respondents. A copy of
the questionnaire is attached in the Appendix.

Fielding Participation in this survey was voluntary and confidential. Fielding began on May
18, 2004. Marine researchers were contacted in person, by phone, and by fax. At least 3
attempts were made to follow-up with marine researchers to complete the survey. Fielding
ended on June 25, 2004.


Of the initial 37 identified marine researchers working in the US Virgin Islands, one was no
longer in the USVI. The remaining 36 marine researchers were approached to respond to this
survey. Twenty eight responded to this survey.

Most marine research respondents worked on St. Thomas (Question 1, Table 1). Some
respondents indicated that they worked on more than one island. Therefore the total number of
responses (35) was more than the total number of respondents.

Most respondents worked at the Division of Fish and Wildlife followed by the University of the
Virgin Islands (Question 2, Table 2). Both of these agencies have offices in St. Thomas and in
St. Croix.

Respondents reported their percentage of work time between research, administrative activities,
and resource management (Question 3, Table 3). Responses ranged from 100 percent research to
98 percent administrative activities.

Respondents rated the condition of the local fishing resources (Question 4, Table 4) as poor, fair,
good, or excellent. Most rated fishing resources as poor or fair. If ratings are converted into
numerical values (with poor = 1, fair = 2, good = 3, and excellent = 4), then the average rating is
1.54 (variance 0.34), about half way between poor and fair.

Respondents identified a variety of problems with the local fishery (Question 5, Table 5). Major
responses fell into the following categories: overfishing/stock depletion, lack of enforcement,
habitat loss/destruction, inappropriate gear types (trap mesh too small), and pollution.

Respondents also made various suggestions on how to improve the fisheries (Question 5, Table
6). Key suggestions included: enforcement of regulations, increasing enforcement, education
and gear reduction.

Respondents then rated U.S. Virgin Islands marine resources (Question 6, Table 7) as poor, fair,
good, or excellent. The most common rating was fair. If ratings are converted to numeric values
(where poor = 1, fair = 2, good = 3, and excellent = 4), then the average rating was 2.0.

Respondents then identified major problems for marine resources that need to be addressed
(Question 7, Table 8). Common problems included: pollution, sedimentation, overfishing
(overexploitation), lack of enforcement, and habitat/ecosystem degradation.

Respondents also provided their suggestions to fix marine resource problems in Question 7 (see
Table 9). Common responses included: more enforcement, education, better resource
management, and restrictions on coastal development.

Question 8 asked about the respondent's awareness or possible involvement in the Fisheries
Advisory Committee (FAC). Results are provided in Table 10. Most respondents were aware of
the FACs. Only about a quarter of respondents were interested in joining the FAC (Table 11). It
should be noted that Division of Fish and Wildlife staff (including the 11 who responded to this
survey) are not eligible to be FAC members.

Question 9 asked respondents for suggestions on boat ramps and jetties (see Table 12). St.
Thomas east end was the most common suggestion. For St. John, Coral Bay, and for St. Croix,
Salt River were suggested more than once. Respondents also provided diverse general
suggestions regarding boat ramps and jetties.

Finally, respondents were asked for additional comments (Question 10, Table 13). Again,
education and the need for more enforcement were the most common responses.


Survey responses from marine researchers were lumped together here. Since several respondents
indicated that they worked on more than one island (Question 1, Table 1), it was appropriate to
lump responses together and not separate out responses by island or district.

Respondents rating of fishing resources was between poor and fair (Question 4, Table 4). On a
scale of 1 to 4 (1 = poor and 4 = excellent), the average rating here was 1.54. This is much lower
than the ratings indicated by fishing club members (Messineo and Uwate 2004) who rated
fishing as between fair and good (2.95 for St. Thomas and 2.63 for St. Croix). It is also lower
than the ratings by commercial fishers (2.66 for St. Thomas/St. John commercial fishers and 2.28
for St. Croix commercial fishers, see Gordon and Uwate 2003), and the ratings by marine
recreational industry respondents (2.5 for St. Thomas/St. John marine recreational industry
respondents and 2.0 for St. Croix marine recreational industry respondents, see Gordon and
Uwate 2003).

The ratings of the condition of marine resources were similar to their ratings of fishing resources.
In this survey, marine researchers rated marine resources as fair (2.0, see Table 7). This was
lower than the rating provided by marine recreational industry respondents of good (2.8 for St.
Thomas/St. John marine recreational industry respondents, and 3.0 for St. Croix marine
recreational industry respondents, see Gordon and Uwate (2003).

Marine researchers identified overfishing, enforcement, habitat loss, and pollution as major
problems in the fishery (see Table 5). These are similar to the main fishing problems identified
by fishing club members (Messineo and Uwate 2004), commercial fishers (Gordon and Uwate
2003), and by the marine recreational industry (Gordon and Uwate 2003).

Marine researcher suggested solutions to these major fisheries problems (see Table 6) were
similar to those suggested by other user groups (see Gordon and Uwate 2003, and Messineo and
Uwate 2004).

Marine researchers identified major problems with marine resources (see Table 8) such as
pollution, overfishing, lack of enforcement, and habitat degradation were similar to those
identified by other user groups (see Gordon and Uwate 2003, and Messineo and Uwate 2004).
Suggested solutions were also similar.

General comments by respondents here on boat ramps and jetties (see Table 12) were diverse
and insightful. Development of new jetties was not recommended. One respondent suggested
that DFW should only maintain existing jetties and ramps.

Interestingly, marine researchers rate both fishing and marine resource conditions as much lower
than other user groups did. This may be related to their broader perspective of these issues,
access to historical surveys or reports, or perhaps just to the skeptical nature of a science
background. Alternatively, it may be related to the optimistic nature of fishers, whether
commercial or recreational.

Results of these surveys provide insights into the priority areas, as perceived by marine
researchers. These priorities are real to the respondents. It appears that the views of marine
researchers, in terms of problems to the local fisheries and marine resources, are very similar to
those views and opinions by other user groups (see Gordon and Uwate 2003, and Messineo and
Uwate 2004). Results here validate and support the priorities previously identified. Clearly the
issues identified by researchers and the different user groups are priority areas that should be
included in any fisheries or marine resources planning activities. These priorities may be
unknown or not yet significant to policy makers. Therefore, a summary of these reports should
be circulated through related government agencies and to policy makers. Only through making
results like these available (especially when fishers and researchers agree on issues) can policy
makers learn of these priorities and take action to address these priority issues.

Public dissemination of these results will be done when the draft strategic plan (that will include
a summary of results here) is completed and sent out for public and governmental review later in
2004. Once the plan is reviewed and accepted, projects can then be developed to address these
priority issues.

Gordon, S. and K.R. Uwate. 2003. 2002 Opinion survey of U.S. Virgin Island commercial
fishers and the marine recreational industry. Bureau of Fisheries, Division of Fish and Wildlife,
Department of Planning and Natural Resources, U.S. Virgin Islands. 13 pp.

Messineo, J., and K.R. Uwate. 2004. 2003 Opinion Survey of U.S. Virgin Island Recreational
Fishing Club Members. Bureau of Fisheries, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Department of
Planning and Natural Resources, U.S. Virgin Islands. 14 pp.

Uwate, K.R., W. Tobias, P. Nieves, H. Rivera, W. Ventura, and L. Critchley. 2001. Survey of
U.S. Virgin Islands commercial fisher opinions and usage of new national monument areas
(Buck Island and south of St. John). Bureau of Fisheries, Division of Fish and Wildlife,
Department of Planning and Natural Resources, U.S. Virgin Islands. 13 pp.


An earlier draft of this report was reviewed by Jason Vasques, Ron Sjoken, and Dr. Barbara

Table 1. Respondents' Location of Work (Q1)
No. of
Island Responses* Percentage (%)
St. Thomas 15 42.9
St. Croix 7 20.0
St. John 13 37.1
total 35 100.0
*note: Some respondents worked on more than one island.
Total number of respondents was 28.

Table 2. Respondents' Agency of Employment (Q2)

Agency No. of Responses Percentage (%)
DFW 11 39.3
UVI 6 21.4
TOC 1 3.6
TNC 1 3.6
NPS 3 10.7
USFWS 2 7.1
USGS 1 3.6
private consultant 3 10.7
total 28 100.0

Table 3. Respondents' Percentage of Work Time Allocation (Q3)*'
Research*2 Administrative Management Other*3
Average 41.3 40.1 35.3 40.0
Minimum %*4 5.0 10.0 2.0 5.0
Maximum %*4 100.0 98.0 80.0 100.0
# responses*5 24 21 18 6
1. Sum of percentages for all respondents did not equal 100 since some
respondents did not respond to each category of response.
2. Responses of grant writing, data entry, and surveys were lumped into
3. Other activities included: education, enforcement, and conservation
4. Minimum and maximum percentage is the range of time (in percent)
that a respondent spends on each activity.

Table 5. Respondent Identified Problems in the Fisheries (Q5)
No. of Percentage
Responses* (%)
overfishing/stock depletion (loss of top predators, inshore
depletion, catch of small fish, few fish, too many fishers) 24 32.4
lack of enforcement 16 21.6
habitat loss/destruction (wetlands, juvenile fish habitat) 6 8.1
pollution (non-point source, sedimentation, runoff, land, and
marine) 5 6.8
traps (abandoned, destroy habitat, kill little fish) 3 4.1
inappropriate gear types (mesh too small, non selective gear) 3 4.1
landings statistics (documentation poor, data collection poor) 2 2.7
gillnets (no monitoring) 2 2.7
no management 2 2.7
no accountability 2 2.7
illegal fishing 2 2.7
lack of knowledge (fishers don't understand susceptibitility of
resources, lack knowledge of fishing impacts) 1 1.4
longliners 1 1.4
funding cuts 1 1.4
poor communication between agencies 1 1.4
overdevelopment 1 1.4
global climate change 1 1.4
spearfishing with SCUBA 1 1.4
theft (gear, catch) 1 1.4
total 74 100.0
*note: Some respondents provided multiple responses here.

Table 4. Respondents' Rating of Fishing Resources (Q4)
rating No. of Responses Percentage (%)*
Poor 13 50.0
Fair 12 46.2
Good 1 3.8
Excellent 0 0.0
total 26 100.0
*note: Some respondents did not respond to this question. One
respondent provided 2 responses.

If poor =1, fair =2, good = 3, and excellent = 4, then the
average rating of the fishing resource = 1.54; with variance = 0.34

Table 6. Respondent Identified Solutions for the Fisheries (Q5)
No. of Percentage
Responses* (%)
enforce regulations (better regulations, more regulations,
increase fines, enforce coastal development, protect
wetlands) 10 18.5
enforcement (more officers, overhaul system, involve
federal government) 11 20.4
education (public awareness, fisher education) 4 7.4
gear reduction 3 5.6
closures (random area, seasonal) 3 5.6
limited entry for commercial fishers 3 5.6
management (innovative, better) 3 5.6
ban nets 2 3.7
more research (data) 2 3.7
change political priorities 1 1.9
ban SCUBA commercial harvest 1 1.9
territorial parks 1 1.9
regulate development 1 1.9
limit harvest 1 1.9
more protected areas (wetlands) 1 1.9
ban traps 1 1.9
close spawning aggregation areas seasonally 1 1.9
close areas that benefit VI tourism 1 1.9
establish adequate setbacks 1 1.9
more regulations 1 1.9
better landings (increase landings) 1 1.9
purchase surrounding land (for setbacks) 1 1.9
total 54 100.0
*note: Some respondents provided multiple responses here.

Table 7. Respondents' Rating of Marine Resources (Q6)
Rating No. of Responses Percentage (%)*
Poor 7 21.9
Fair 18 56.3
Good 7 21.9
Excellent 0 0.0
total 32 100.0
*note: Some respondents provided multiple responses.

If poor =1, fair =2, good = 3, and excellent = 4, then
average rating of the marine resource = 2.00, with variance = 0.45

Table 8. Respondent Identified Problems with Marine Resources (Q7)
No. of Percenta
Responses* (%)

pollution (water quality, non-point source, terrigenous stress
on reefs, marine pollution, land based marine pollution, poor
waste treatment, sewage, St. Croix large industry) 22 31.9
overfishing 8 11.6
lack of enforcement 8 11.6
overexploitation (too many people, too much development,
too many marine businesses, uncontrolled coastal
development) 7 10.1
sedimentation (runoff, no enforcement of new construction
sediment barriers, land fill) 6 8.7
habitat/ecosystem degradation/destruction 5 7.2
mooring (poor design, mooring unregulated, anchor damage) 3 4.3
illegal fishing (in protected area, or for protected species) 2 2.9
coral reef damage/diseases 1 1.4
jet skis 1 1.4
loss of public beach access on St. Thomas 1 1.4
lack of respect for marine resources 1 1.4
lack of education 1 1.4
global climate change 1 1.4
no management 1 1.4
lack of land/water use plan 1 1.4
total 69 100.0
*note: Some respondents provided multiple responses here.

Table 9. Respondent Identified Solutions to Marine Resources
Problems (Q7)
No. of Percentage
Responses* (%)
more enforcement (more funding, more patrols) 10 22.7
education (public awareness, sedimentation, runoff education,
research results to fishers) 5 11.4
restrict coastal development (stricter regulations, more
regulations, limit close to sensitive areas 4 9.1
pave roads (improve conditions) 3 6.8
management (innovative, better) 3 6.8
better resource management (actively manage the fisheries) 2 4.5
research 2 4.5
septic tanks (eliminate, proper use) 2 4.5
improve waste management 2 4.5
better landfill requirements (better waste management plans) 1 2.3
more permitting for development 1 2.3
reduce fishing effort 1 2.3
more moorings 1 2.3
regulate large industries (HOVENSA, Cruzan Rum, etc.) 1 2.3
don't allow politics and money to buy way through regulations 1 2.3
territorial parks 1 2.3
better strategic plan and follow it 1 2.3
recycle 1 2.3
storm water management 1 2.3
pump out facilities 1 2.3
total 44 100.0
*note: Some respondents provided multiple responses here.

Table 10. Respondents' Awareness of FAC (Q8)

No. of Responses Percentage (%)
Aware 26 96.3
Not aware 1 3.7
Total 27 100.0

Table 12. Respondent Suggestions on Boat Ramps and Jetties (Q9)
No. of Percentage
Responses* (%)
St. Thomas
East end St. Thomas (American Yacht Harbor, or National Park
area) 5 20.0
West end St. Thomas 1 4.0
improve Nadir 1 4.0
St. John
Coral Bay 2 8.0
Cruz Bay 1 4.0
Enighed Pond 1 4.0
St. Croix
Salt River 2 8.0
Long Point 1 4.0
Turner Hole 1 4.0
Remove Cane Bay (not being used) 1 4.0
Remove Salt River 1 4.0
use qualified contractors/engineers 2 8.0
avoid jetties 2 8.0
build a commercial fishing pier with free docking in exchange
for valuable data 1 4.0
jetties will change sand flow/deposition, resulting in more man
made structures 1 4.0
install in strategic low impact areas 1 4.0
don't construct new ones, maintain old ones 1 4.0
total 25 100.0
*note: Some respondents provided multiple responses here.

Table 11. Respondents' Willingness to Join the FAC* (Q8)
No. of Responses Percentage (%)
Willing to Join 4 26.7
No 11 73.3
total 15 100.0
*note: DFW staff are not eligible to become members of the
Fisheries Advisory Committee

Table 13. Respondents' Additional Comments (Q10)
No. of Percentage
Responses* (%)
education (conservation starts with education, more people
with education as part of their job, DFW to hold meeting to
present results) 5 17.9
need more enforcement (DEE should work weekends, need
more enforcement people) 5 17.9
better relationship between all parties (fishers, DFW, other
agencies, communication) 3 10.7
DFW needs to address critical research needs 2 7.1
too many personal agendas on FAC/councils 1 3.6
need more fish houses (Hull Bay, east end St.Thomas, Cruz Bay) 1 3.6
more fisher involvement in decision making 1 3.6
survey inappropriate for gathering management information 1 3.6
allow USVI researchers to review strategic plan 1 3.6
T -l T .- _ 1. 1-1 1

MAY 2004

The Division of Fish & Wildlife is seeking your valuable opinions, and insights regarding
fisheries and marine resources issues in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Your responses are confidential.
They will be compiled together and will provide DFW with insight into the priorities and
problems identified by you. This will assist DFW in designing projects to address priority
1. Where do you work? [ ] ST. THOMAS [ ] ST. JOHN [ ] ST. CROIX

2. What agency do you work for? [ ] DFW []UVI [ ] TOC [ ]TNC [ ]NPS
[ ] USFWS [ ] USGS [ ] private consultant [ ] other (please specify):

3. What percentage of your time is spent on: % research % office administration
% resource management % other: (please specify):

4. How would you rate fishing resources in the U.S. Virgin Islands?

5. What are the major fisheries problems that you see? How can they be fixed?

6. How would you rate the marine resource conditions in the U.S. Virgin Islands?

7. What are the major marine resource problems that you see? How can they be fixed?

8. Do you know about the Fisheries Advisory Committee? [ ] YES [ ] NO
[For non-DFW respondents only] Would you be interested to volunteer to be on the
Fisheries Advisory Committee?
[ ]YES (print name/contact number): [ ] NO

9. Do you have any suggestions for new boat ramps and public jetties?

10. Do you have any additional comments?

Thank you for taking the time to answer this questionnaire.

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