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VIEXILE 11-02-2003 12:04 PM

I''ve said this before. Now, one trial of an "illegal" fishing boat is over. Two kids from Hull Bay, St. Thomas, who were SELLING THEIR FISH TO THE BVI GOVERNMENT. They pleaded guilty, got $11,000.00 in fines and had their 32'' family (old) fishing boat STOLEN by the BVI government. The younger kid (both Berrys)is only 16. A guy with dual citizenship set them up, the BVI government was buying the fish - for months prior - then Lettsome (the "fisheries minister") had them arrested, jailed and held last December. See, now you can only keep 30# of fish from the BVI. The rest has to be delivered to Road Town to Lettsome''s BROTHER so he can resell and get rich. Thus far, three boats have been seized. One from Puerto Rico had the ex-gov''s daughter onboard. One phone call yielded profuse apology - the BVI would crash without the Puerto Rican Navy (the weekenders). The Black Pearl is due to be in court in the next couple of weeks. Here''s the bottom line. "Norm Isaacs" of ESPN 2 fame has set up the BVI government and convinced them they can steal all the charter fishing boats from the USVI and help their economy. In doing so, they are running around seizing boats and scaring people into buying BVI fishing licenses at $2,500.00 per YEAR. Yet they fish U.S. waters with impunity. They see their waters going 200 miles offshore. Please, if you can''t charter in the USVI PR or downisland, at least mention the problem to your charter company. If they tell you anything different, they''re lying. These are U.S. citizens getting jailed and ripped off for their boats and gear. Of course, as a sailor first and a fisherman second, I can see why some would ignore this plea, but the Berry kids live right down the hill from me. They''ve lost tens of thousands of dollars they can''t afford, and if they don''t pay the fines by mid-December, they get six months in jail. See (St. Thomas Source). You won''t see anything about it in the BVI source. Thanks, Norm, for your kind efforts on AMERICAN fisherperson''s behalf. Oh yeah, when everyone''s boats were "seized" you COULDN''T GET A DAMN LICENSE. This has been going on for years. It''s time for it to stop. Please help. Viexile.

DuaneIsing 11-03-2003 05:24 AM


Since there is no "higher authority" to stop this, I guess an economic boycott might get their attention. Of course, won''t all the folks earning their living from the tourists in the BVIs be hurt long before the message gets across to the government?

I don''t have an answer.


VIEXILE 11-03-2003 05:41 AM

I won''t be sailing the BVI Regatta this spring, and I''m organizing the Memorial Day Fishing Tournament for St. Croix rather than Anegada. Sure, the BVI government doesn''t give a crap. They get paid every friday no matter what. A bunch of villagers with torches coming after them might get their attention, though (so to speak). People need to understand the underhandedness of the whole thing - if you asked for a license when these boats were seized, they couldn''t tell you how to get one - they had no license. Yet the BVI people come and go from U.S. waters daily without checking in - or fish our resources without licensing. Thanks, Norm. Thanks a lot.

rleslie 11-04-2003 01:39 PM


Please clarify one point. Where the individuals who lost their boats engaged in commercial fishing or where they pleasure boater who decided to cast a line in the hope of catching dinner?

VIEXILE 11-05-2003 06:51 AM

One boat was pleasure, the PR boat where all charges were dropped. The Berry kids is a more convoluted tome. The BVI wasn''t getting enough fish from their own line fishermen. The Berrys were selling the fish at West End Tortola to BVI "officials", which the government admitted. A dual-citizen named Smith set up the fishing deal. Their license had expired and he was to renew their license with the BVI government. It was in "process" but hadn''t been completed when they were arrested (after fishing there legally for years). The point is, the only reason for the arrest was to make a point, and poorly so. They believed they had a license, and were told so, but it hadn''t quite been finished "processing" yet. The third boat was a charter marlin boat fishing a tournament 20 some miles offshore where several other boats were also fishing. They had the mistaken belief that if they let those bozos onto their boat, in very rough seas, everything would be cleared up. Instead, boat seized, $500,000 in fines pending (each, for owner Scott Niddrie and captain Jimmy Estraca), case pending, etc. Boat has been released on $15,000.00 cash bond. This was during the June Moon Marlin tournament out of St. Thomas. The tournaments have ALWAYS fished BVI/USVI waters. This whole thing came about without any warning AND without the ability to get a license if you wanted one. It is a convoluted attempt to force all pelagic fishing charter boats to "come to the BVI" and base out of there. The BVI government has stated as much. They''ve already ripped 80% of the sailing charter fleet out of the USVI - not as much their fault as the fault of the USVI government. Their is a wahoo fishing tournament coming up this weekend. At the friday night skipper''s meeting, EVERYONE will be admonished NOT to cross into BVI waters AND that the tournament WILL NOT INCLUDE BVI waters. Hence, any BVI boats thinking they can fish BVI waters and enter the tournament are dead wrong. Look, I wouldn''t be so up in arms about this if it wasn''t for the fact that they''re blatantly screwing people to steal business away from U.S. interests. If they HAVE a damn fishing license, or HAD one, please ''splane how to get it. Prior to these seizures, nobody could tell you anything. Does the U.S. do the same to them? No. They come in to Red Hook by the boatload almost daily on private boats so they can go to KMart, Plaza Extra (and now - ready for this? - Home Depot) with impunity and without clearing customs. They set their fishpots in U.S. waters with impunity and nobody bothers them. Coast Guard doesn''t care. "Homeland security" doesn''t seem to care. The only thing they''ll eventually understand is money - which, by the way, in the BVI, is the U.S. dollar, NOT the pound sterling. Think that through. The buck is "their" declared currency. We have to pay taxes to support the treasury dept. They simply rely on our treasury to guarantee their economy, with no expense of bureacracy or administration involved. A free ride on the U.S. dollar. KW

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