Conservation through Education—Island Style

The Marine Outreach and Education U.S. Virgin Islands Style initiative is encouraging residents to participate in natural resource management and to play a more active role in conservation efforts.

There’s a movement gaining momentum in the U.S. Virgin Islands to foster stronger relationships between resource managers and the community to address some of the most pressing threats to the territory’s marine resources. That movement—Marine Outreach and Education U.S. Virgin Islands Styleis now in its third year.

Fishing, land-based pollution, and climate change are among the top threats to the coral reefs and fisheries that support thousands of people who live in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The initiative is raising awareness about these issues through a series of community-based events.

Conservation and Community

Efforts include outreach to the commercial fishing communities through annual workshops to educate fishers about territory management rules, regulations, and registration processes. More than 200 commercial fishers have participated each year since 2012.

The initiative also celebrates the unique place fishing occupies in the territory’s history and culture. This was the focus of a recent family-friendly event called Don’t Stop Talking Fish designed to show support for local fishers and motivate the community to protect their reefs and fish. The event brought together more than 500 residents, resource managers, and fishers to celebrate their fishing culture.

Outreach Resources

Because fishing is such a vital part of U.S. Virgin Island communities, maintaining open channels of communication between residents and marine resource managers is key. The initiative offers guidance on how to build and maintain these relationships with its outreach and education strategy. The strategy is now available on NOAA’s Coral Reef Information System at www.coris.noaa.gov/activities/moes_vi_plan.

Partners in this work: NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Regional Office, Caribbean Fishery Management Council, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, and many others.

To learn more about the initiative and how you can participate, visit www.dontstoptalkingfish.com or email Lia.Ortiz@noaa.gov.

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