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Netfishing Overview – Management Implications for Restrictions on the Use of Gill and Trammel Nets

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St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
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Abstract

NETFISHING OVERVIEW – ST NETFISHING OVERVIEW – ST. CROIX, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS: MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS FOR RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE OF GILL AND TRAMMEL NETS General Fishery Description Shallow Water Reef Fish Fishery The shallow water coral reef fishery is the most important fishery in the U.S. Caribbean, comprised of some 350 species of reef fish, 180 of these are landed in quantity throughout the region as part of the commercial fishery (Caribbean Fishery Management Council, 1985). The fisheries in the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as in Puerto Rico, are multi-species, multi-gear and artisanal in nature. There are approximately 380 registered commercial fishers in the U.S. Virgin Islands (Tobias et al., 2000). The commercial fishing fleet on St. Croix consists primarily of small-sized, open, wood or fiberglass fishing boats, which average 20-26 feet in length and are powered by outboard engines. Because of limited sheltered waters, relatively flat land and good road system on St. Croix, these vessels represent a mobile fishing fleet, trailered to access sites around the island, depending on sea conditions and target species. Larger vessels are used for trap- based fisheries, due to space requirements for traps and machinery (Caribbean Fishery Management Council, 2003) and are typically maintained in the water. Gear types used in the fishery include traps, line fishing, nets and diving. Many fishers use multiple gear types and more than one gear type may be used on a fishing trip. Recorded Landings A shallow water reef fish stock assessment of the U.S. Caribbean was conducted in 1991, focusing on comparing data from the fishing years 1985 and 1990 (Appeldoorn et al., 1992). Data poor conditions were noted for the U.S. Virgin Islands, especially for historical data sets. Projected reef fish landings appeared reasonably stable between 1975 and 1989 in the U.S. Virgin Islands (1.3 million pounds), averaging 0.9 million pounds for St. Thomas

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