Information Officer I (Ag.)
Department of Information and Public Relations
The protection of the Territory’s environment will take centre stage with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Recovery and Development Agency (RDA) and the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) on March 18.
As part of this project, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour will conduct marine surveys in partnership with the United Kingdom’s National Oceanography Centre to formulate a base of evidence for marine spatial planning to improve maritime policy decisions and sustainable use of environmental resources.
Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Honourable Vincent Wheatley was present at the signing of the agreement and thanked the Government of the United Kingdom for its continued support to the BVI through its recovery and also with its development.
Honourable Wheatley said, “This Marine survey is important to the BVI because it allows the Territory to make a step towards moving from an Exclusive Fishing Zone to an Exclusive Economic Zone. This would diversify opportunities to not only sustainably fish but derive other economic benefits, including access to the 200 nautical mile area comprising the waters of the Virgin Islands.”
Honourable Wheatley went on to state that having control of the entire special element of the nautical 200 mile zone surrounding the Virgin Islands as opposed to solely controlling the fisheries resources like what has been done before will open up the Virgin Islands to a new dimension of entrepreneurship, development and conservation that was previously inaccessible.
He added, “This may seem like a simple survey, but it is really the fundamental thing that needs to happen for a lot of other things to take place.”
Several departments under the ministry will benefit from skills development and capacity building to perform similar types of surveys in the future, as valuable maps of the underwater natural resources of the Virgin Islands will be acquired.