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VIPCA TESTIMONY: In favour of new proposed legislation for Marine Biology to be taught in high school to all students from year 9, to be heard in St Croix Chambers hearing of Bill 32-0006 on June 14th 2017.
Amendment: SECTION 1. Title 17 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 5, section 41, subsection (c) “(8) Marine Biology for grade 9…”
Good Afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Senate, my name is Oriel Blake and I am the Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association, known as VIPCA. VIPCA is the U.S. Virgin Islands’ only non-profit marine charter association. VIPCA’s goals include encouraging Virgin Islands youth into the marine industry for employment as well as promoting marine conservation. Educating school children in marine biology from year nine to improve their understanding of the marine environment is paramount to both of these causes. VIPCA supports the amendment proposed to Bill 32-0006.
The youth of today need to understand the marine environment that helps support life on this planet, and more specifically the Virgin islands. The U.S. Virgin Islands coral reefs are in decline: Elkhorn and Staghorn coral in the Territory is listed as threatened, and is protected federally under the United States Endangered Species Act as well through local law. Natural stressors such as hurricanes cannot be avoided, however man-made stressors like polution can be. For example the sunsceens used by thousands of cruise ship passengers cause reef bleaching; if responsibilty was taken then the negative impact of humans on Virgin Islands coral reefs could even be reversed.
Marine Biology can educate school children about local species and habitats, and how to stop polluting factors which harm them. Climate change, coral reef bleaching, invasive species, endagered species and overfishing all are of great concern to the future of the islands. Promoting conservation and encouraging change in the way we treat the environment is important to maintaining the ecosystems that protect the U.S. Virgin Islands coastlines. By educating students from year 9 and up in marine biology, the youth of tomorrow will learn to teach their children how treat the marine environment with respect. Career oportunites in the marine industry will open for these students, from employment promoting and protecting the marine life such as in the National Parks or Coral World, to working in the marine charter industry as captains or crew. Through consistent conservation of the Caribbean sea surrounding the Virgin Islands, not only will the marine environment be healthier, but tourism greater and the economy that depends upon our beaches stronger.
VIPCA and Gowrie Group are in the final stages of completing a Crew Medical and Vessel protection and Indemnity programs.
Please stay tuned for further updates and information about each offerings.
VIPCA is pleased to formally announce that VIPCA has been offered the opportunity to organize and run the Charter Yacht Show at Yacht Haven Grande (YHG) in November 2017.
VIPCA meets with UVI to discuss holding a Marine Job Fair 2017 to encourage Virgin Islanders to consider careers locally in the marine industry both ashore in business management or technical services and as Captains and Crew.
A letter written on 28th April was addressed to Dr, the Hon. D. Orlando Smith was acknowledged and discussions within the Premier have ensued regarding VIPCA’s request for a reduction in the proposed cruise permit, or at least a staging of it.
VIPCA attends a meeting in the Capitol Building to discuss VIPCA working together with the Department of Tourism on the Bill 31-0017, Act No. 7734 of the 31st Legislature of the Virgin Islands, where by “The Commissioner shall develop an integrated plan to make fuller use of the Virgin Islands’ water resources, marine industries, and marine facilities to compete globally in the marine tourism industry and shall promote and advertise on a global scale marine tourism in the Virgin Islands.”
A grant was received by VIPCA from the Department of Tourism and work has begun.
VIPCA meets with the Marine Vocation Program joining forces with the Boys and Girls Club to encourage Virgin Islands Youth to pursue maritime training. Looking forward to working with Jimmy Loveland and supporting his excellent work!