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Tropic news. Volume 7. Issue 4.

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Tropic news. Volume 7. Issue 4.
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Tropic news
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United States Virgin Islands. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Division of Fish and Wildlife.
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United States Virgin Islands. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Division of Fish and Wildlife.
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North America -- United States Virgin Islands
Caribbean

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Full Text



TROPIC NEWS


DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND NATURAL
RESOURCES


January 1995


DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE


Volume 7 Number 4


Protecting Our Environment
Did you know that the Virgin Islands has lost more
than 50% of its mangrove forests, over 30% of its sea-
grass beds, a number of saltponds, and many of its coral
reefs in the last 50 years? It's true, and it has had a very
great negative effect on our quality of life as residents of
these beautiful islands.
Well, we are trying to do something about it. Re-
cently, Commissioner Roy Adams designated a series of
marine reserves and wildlife sanctuaries on the south-
eastern end of St. Thomas. Governor Farrelly then
signed Rules and Regulations for these areas to provide
protection for the natural resources found in these
areas. The three sites include; the Compass Point Pond
Marine Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary, the Cas Cay/
Mangrove Lagoon Marine Reserve and Wildlife Sanctu-
ary, and the St. James Marine Reserve and Wildlife
Sanctuary. Each of these areas will be detailed in
separate newsletters. This issue will start with the
Compass Point Pond.


Salt ponds are very important wildlife feeding and
roosting habitats. They are also important for allowing
sediment to settle out of runoff from the land. Compass
Point Pond was blocked from the sea a number of years
ago by a developer and dried up. The mangroves died
and wildlife was forced to go elsewhere. After designa-
tion of this pond as a protected area in 1992, it was
reopened to the sea and natural water levels were
restored in the pond. Almost immediately, fish and
crabs were observed in the pond and shortly afterwards,
many shorebirds were observed feeding and residing
around the pond. With the return to natural water
levels, conditions are now proper for reestablishment of
mangroves in the pond. As an off-site mitigation mea-
sure, the Magens Bay Authority is going to plant man-
groves around the pond to replace mangroves removed
during their bridge expansion project at Magens Bay.
Following the reopening of the pond, Rotary East
took an interest in the pond and adopted it as a commu-
nity project. Several weekends of volunteer efforts
resulted in removal of all the accumulated trash, old
boats and cars. The long term plan for the pond is
development of boardwalks and viewing blinds for bird
and other nature watching. Signs and a brochure are
being developed by the Division to help make the pond a
valuable educational/recreational destination for both
residents and visitors t. nnr islnnic


The Magnificent Frigatebird
In the Virgin Islands, the Magnificent Frigatebird
(Fregata magnificens ), also called a Hurricane or
Man-O'-War bird, is a common sight gliding on air
currents or following fish- ermen hoping for a
handout. This bird is the largest of our
seabirds with a wingspan of up to 96
inches. The only nesting colony in our area
for these birds is on Great Tobago in the
British V.I. Nesting is usually in November
and December. The males are identified
duringthispe- riod by their
inflated red gular pouches
as they display to the females.
Frigatebirds oc- cupy a promi-
nent place in seamen's lore due to their
superb flying ability and tendency of
attacking other birds. Their name most
likely originated with a comparison be-
tween this behavior and the fast, maneuver-
able warships used by pirates to attack mer-
chant vessels and relieve them of their cargos.
Frigatebirds are often seen stealing food from other
birds but they actually do catch most of their food
themselves.
Frigatebirds can become quite tame. South Pacific
islanders would take young birds and hand raise them.
When going on long trips they would take a frigatebird
with them and, on arriving at their destination, release
the bird with a note attached to its leg. The bird would
then invariably return to the house where it was raised
with the good news of their safe arrival. Around the
time of the discovery of America, frigatebirds were

thought to be good news for sailors because they meant
land was near. Those sailors would have been alarmed
to know that frigatebirds are capable of long journeys
into mid ocean!
Recently, a female frigatebird was found at a local
marina trailing a fishing line and pole! The hook was
removed from its wing and the wound was stitched:
After several days of recovery and feeding, the bird -was
released in Pillsbury Sound and is hopefully pursuing
its Man-O'-War activities.

QUOTE
"Unless business can make money from environmen-
tal products or politicians can get elected on environ-
mental issues, or individuals can get personal satisfac-
tion from experiencing environmental concern, then
individuals and organizations will simply do whatever
competes with environmentalism if they see the payoff
as greater."


C. Seligman, 1980


ill







What Would We Do With An Oil Spill?
If there is an oil spill in the Virgin Islands, it is the
responsibility of the Coast Guard and the responsible
party (the company or individual that spilled the oil) to
clean up the oil. The primary goal is to keep the oil from
reaching the shore. Once the oil reaches the shore the
cleanup becomes more difficult and expensive and the
environmental and economic impacts are greater. There
are currently four methods for removing oil from the
open ocean.
The most popular methods are mechanical. One of
these methods is the use of skimmers which skim the oil
off the surface of the water and store it in tanks. The St.
Croix based Caribbean Responder uses this method.
Another method is the use of oil absorbing materials.
the main problem with mechanical methods is the
generation of large amounts of waste material that must
be disposed of. This is a serious problem here in the VI.
Bioremediation, or the use of bacteria to eat oil, has
great promise, but has yet to work in the open ocean.
Chemical dispersants are used to break up the oil
into small droplets that sink. This prevents much of the
oil from reaching the shore. Unfortunately, the droplets
remain in the water column and the long term fate of
these droplets is not known. Therefore, this method is
not advisable in shallow water or over seagrass beds or
coral reefs.
The last method is in situ burning. Oil is concen-
trated by boats pulling fire-proof booms and then light-
ing the oil on fire. When done under proper conditions,
this method removes the most oil and probably has the
least environmental impact. Unfortunately, the plume
of smoke can create a human health hazard. Therefore,
this method cannot be used when there is any danger of
the smoke blowing over populated areas.
Currently, all of the techniques for cleaning up a spill
in the ocean have problems. The method used will
depend on conditions at the time of the spill. Continued
research is developing better methods all the time.

Trees were saved by printing on recycled paper


A New Sport Fisheries Initiative
Did you know that more than 50 million Americans
fish each year? Did you know that they spent $24 billion
on fishing gear and motor boat fuels to fish
recreationally in 1991? Excise taxes collected on these
sales support US Fish and Wildlife Service sport fish
restoration projects throughout the U.S., including the
Virgin Islands.These are the funds that the Division
uses for many of our projects, including boat ramps,
artificial reefs, fish sampling, and various studies.
Recently, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt
announced a new fisheries conservation strategy called
the Recreational Fisheries Stewardship Initiative.
Recognizing the decline of fisheries and the habitats
that they depend on, the Initiative calls for an enhance-
ment of the health of aquatic ecosystems and recre-
ational fisheries, and an increase in sport fishing oppor-
tunities.
This goals of the Initiative, which will involve federal
and state natural resource agencies, include:
Enhancing and restoring aquatic ecosystems,
Enhancing recreational fishing opportunities,
Increasing partnerships with private landowners,
Establishing partnerships between governments
and the private sector, and
Achieving balance in the recovery of endangered
species and the management of recreational fisheries.
Hopefully, through the forging of new partnerships
and an improvement of national direction in fisheries
conservation policy-making, the goals of the Initiative
will become reality. Without the changes recommended
by the Initiative, the future of sport fishing (and all
fishing) is uncertain as habitats continue to be de-
graded.

E~F~rr~a;pa~ m ~ sr --------nrs


&56 I

~i .,:


This newsletter was funded by the US
Fish and Wildlife Service, Sport Fish and
Wildlife Restoration Acts, the Caribbean
Fishery Management Council and the
Government of the VI.


GOVERNMENT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
OF THE UNITED STATES
******
Department of Planning and Natural Resources
Division of Fish and Wildlife
6291 Estate Nazareth 101
St. Thomas, USVI 00802-1104
(809)775-6762 (ST.T.), (809)772-1955 (ST.X.)


BULK RATE
U.S. POSTAGE PAID
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, V.I.
PERMIT NO. 35


Address Correction Requested


11111~111~1111~11~


~--- -- dr _-_-------- -I~-




Full Text

PAGE 1

DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND NATURAL RESOURCES Volume 7 Number 4 January 1995 Protecting Our Environment Did you know that the Virgin Islands has lost more than 50% of its mangrove forests, over 30% of its seagrass beds, a number of saltponds, and many of its coral reefs in the last 50 years? It's true, and it has had a very great negative effect on our quality of life as residents of these beautiful islands. Well, we are trying to do something about it. Recently, Commissioner Roy Adams designated a series of marine reserves and wildlife sanctuaries on the southeastern end of St. Thomas. Governor Farrelly then signed Rules and Regulations for these areas to provide protection for the natural resources found in these areas. The three sites include; the Compass Point Pond Marine Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary, the Cas Cay/ Mangrove Lagoon Marine Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary, and the St. James Marine Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary. Each of these areas will be detailed in separate newsletters. This issue will start with the Compass Point Pond. I ~.;~: -~~ ~,,~~ The Magnificent Frigatebird In the Virgin Islands, the Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens ), also called a Hurricane or Man-O'-War bird, is a common sight gliding on air currents or following fishermen hoping for a handout. This bird is the largest of our seabirds with a wingspan of up to 96 inches. The only nesting colony in our area for these birds is on Great Tobago in the British V.I. Nesting is usually in November and December. The males are identified duringthisperiod by their inflated red gular pouches as they display to the females. Frigatebirds occupy a prominent place in seamen's lore due to their superb flying ability and tendency of attacking other birds. Their name most likely originated with a comparison between this behavior and the fast, maneuverable warships used by pirates to attack merchant vessels and relieve them of their cargos. Frigatebirds are often seen stealing food from other birds but they actually do catch most of their food themselves. Frigatebirds can become quite tame. South Pacific islanders would take young birds and hand raise them. When going on long trips they would take a frigatebird with them and, on arriving at their destination, release the bird with a note attached to its leg. The bird would then invariably return to the house where it was raised with the good news of their safe arrival. Around the time of the discovery of America, frigatebirds were thought to be good news for sailors because they meant land was near. Those sailors would have been alarmed to know that frigatebirds are capable of long journeys into mid ocean! Recently, a female frigatebird was found at a local marina trailing a fishing line and pole! The hook was removed from its wing and the wound was stitched:. After several days of recovery and feeding, the bird was released in Pillsbury Sound and is hopefully pursuing its Man-O'-War activities. QUOTE "Unless business can m-ake money from environmental products or politicians can get elected on environmental issues, or individuals can get personal satisfaction from experiencing environmental concern, then individuals and organisations will simply do whatever competes with environmentalism if they see the payoff as greater." ~::':"-~~Salt ponds are very important wildlife feeding and roosting habitats. They are also important for allowing sediment to settle out of runoff from the land. Compass Point Pond was blocked from the sea a number of years ago by a developer and dried up. The mangroves died and wildlife was forced to go elsewhere. After designation of this pond as a protected area in 1992, it was reopened to the sea and natural water levels were restored in the pond. Almost immediately, fish and crabs were observed in the pond and shortly afterwards, many shorebirds were observed feeding and residing around the pond. With the return to natural water levels, conditions are now proper for reestablishment of mangroves in the pond. As an off-site mitigation measure, the Magens Bay Authority is going to plant mangroves around the pond to replace mangroves removed during their bridge expansion project at Magens Bay. Following the reopening of the pond, Rotary East took an interest in the pond and adopted it as a community project. Several weekends of volunteer efforts resulted in removal of all the accumulated trash, old boats and cars. The long term plan for the pond is development of boardwalks and viewing blinds for bird and other nature watching. Signs and a brochure are being developed by the Division to help make the pond a valuable educational/recreational destination for both residents and vif;itoTf; tn 011T i~l~nr1~ C. Seligman. 1980

PAGE 2

A New Sport Fisheries Initiative Did you know that more than 50 million Americans fish each year? Did you know that they spent $24 billion on fishing gear and motor boat fuels to fish recreationally in 1991? Excise taxes collected on these sales support US Fish and Wildlife Service sport fish restoration projects throughout the U.S., including the Virgin Islands. These are the funds that the Division uses for many of our projects, including boat ramps, artificial reefs, fish sampling, and various studies. Recently, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt announced a new fisheries conservation strategy called the Recreational Fisheries Stewardship Initiative. Recognizing the decline of fisheries and the habitats that they depend on, the Initiative calls for an enhancement of the health of aquatic ecosystems and recreational fisheries, and an increase in sport fishing opporbmities. This goals of the Initiative, which will involve federal and state natural resource agencies, include: Enhancing and restoring aquatic ecosystems, Enhancing recreational fishing opportunities, Increasing partnerships with private landowners, Establishing partnerships between governments and the private sector, and Achieving balance in the recovery of endangered species and the management of recreational fisheries. Hopefully, through the forging of new partnerships and an improvement of national direction in fisheries conservation policy-making, the goals of the Initiative will become reality. Without the changes recommended by the Initiative, the future of sport fishing (and all fishing) is uncertain as habitats continue to be degraded. ~ $$~ /-:-:~~ -:-:;--::::";-0:A~ / ~~?' ~~-~ This newsletter was funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Acts, the Caribbean Fishery Management Council and the Government of the VI. What Would We Do With An Oil Spill? If there is an oil spill in the Virgin Islands, it is the responsibility of the Coast Guard and the responsible party (the company or individual that spilled the oil) to clean up the oil. The primary goal is to keep the oil from reaching the shore. Once the oil reaches the shore the cleanup becomes more difficult and expensive and the environmental and economic impacts are greater. There are currently four methods for removing oil from the open ocean. The most popular methods are mechanical. One of these methods is the use of skimmers which skim the oil off the surface of the water and store it in tanks. The St. Croix based Caribbean Responder uses this method. Another method is the use of oil absorbing materials. the main problem with mechanical methods is the generation of large amounts of waste material that must be disposed of. This is a serious problem here in the VI. Bioremediation, or the use of bacteria to eat oil, has great promise, but has yet to work in the open ocean. Chemical dispersants are used to break up the oil into small droplets that sink. This prevents much of the oil from reaching the shore. Unfortunately, the droplets remain in the water column and the long term fate of these droplets is not known. Therefore, this method is not advisable in shallow water or over seagrass beds or coral reefs. The last method is in situ burning. Oil is concentrated by boats pulling fire-proof booms and then lighting the oil on fire. When done under proper conditions, this method removes the most oil and probably has the least environmental impact. Unfortunately, the plume of smoke can create a human health hazard. Therefore, this method cannot be used when there is any danger of the smoke blowing over populated areas. Currently, all of the techniques for cleaning up a spill in the ocean have problems. The method used will depend on conditions at the time of the spill. Continued research is developing better methods all the time. Trees were saved by printing on recycled paper BULK RA 1E U.S. POSTAGE PAID CHARLOT1E AMALIE, V.I. PERMIT NO. 35 --GOVERNMENT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS OF THE UNITED STATES ****** Deparunent of Planning and Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife 6291 Estate Nazareth 101 St. Thomas, USVI 00802-1104 (809)775-6762 (ST.T.), (809)772-1955 (ST.X.) Address Correction Requested