Press Release

Premier's Office
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Release Date:
Thursday, 13 April 2023 - 5:03pm

The Government of the Virgin Islands will be facilitating a series of workshops and public consultation meetings to promote and improve turtle conservation.

Director of Agriculture and Fisheries Mr. Theodore James said the meetings will be conducted in collaboration with the local non-profit Association of Reef Keepers (ARK) and the United Kingdom-based Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and that the data gathered will be critical in improving sea turtle conservation in the Virgin Islands.

Mr. James stated, “These engaging workshops that will be held on Tortola, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda, will aid us in better understanding how the community feels about turtle fishing and conservation.”

The director said persons interested in sea turtles are invited to have their say as their views and values will be taken into account, along with social and biological scientific evidence, to inform legislative changes planned for this year. He added that the input obtained from integral community stakeholders will influence the sustainable management of turtle conservation in the Virgin Islands.

The workshops are scheduled to commence on Monday, April 17, and will see the screening of a new documentary film entitled ‘Turtles in the Virgin Islands – balancing conservation and culture’ following which, members of the public will be afforded the opportunity to express their views and opinions.

The workshops are a central component of the Sustaining Turtles, Environment Economies and Livelihoods (STEEL) project, which is funded by the United Kingdom Government’s Darwin Plus programme.

The STEEL project is supported by the Association of Reef Keepers (ARK) which has coordinated the biological research component of the project which includes turtle tagging and habitat surveys.  The University of Exeter has also provided technical and academic advice.

Managing Director of ARK, Dr. Shannon Gore said the association has been carrying out sea turtle research in the Territory for over two decades, and that they are seeing significant changes in the numbers of some sea turtle species.

Dr. Gore said, “During that time, there has also been a lot of controversy over the turtle fishery. The STEEL project seeks to improve turtle conservation in the Virgin Islands while taking into consideration the local culture and values associated with turtle use.”

The STEEL project will produce a Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for the Virgin Islands, including recommendations for reform of the turtle fishery regulations that is projected to be completed later this year.

Meanwhile, the Marine Conservation Society has utilised its ‘Community Voice Method’ to dialog with communities on conservation issues, through film, workshops and public consultation. The society has previously administered a similar strategy to reform turtle fisheries in the Turks and Caicos Islands and Montserrat.

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is a department under the Premier’s Office of the Government of the Virgin Islands.  It is responsible for ensuring that food is safe, nutritionally sound, produced and harvested in an environmentally sustainable manner that builds resilience to internal and external shocks while contributing to economic growth, social well-being and protection of the natural environment.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour a partner on this project, is responsible for the effective management of the natural resources of the Virgin Islands.  It endeavours to effectively manage and administer the natural resources of the Territory in a manner that ensures long term sustainability.



Monday 17th April, 6.30pm

Bamboushay Lounge, Tortola

Wednesday 19th April, 6.00pm

East End Community Centre, Tortola

Thursday 20th April, 6.30pm

Sappy’s Restaurant, Carrot Bay, Tortola

Tuesday 25th, 6.00pm

Community Centre, Anegada

Thursday 27th, 6.00pm

Ursula’s Community Centre, Virgin Gorda

Tuesday 2nd May, 6.00pm

Foxy’s Bar, Jost Van Dyke

The Association of Reef Keepers (ARK) is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation dedicated to ensuring the preservation and sustainability of the BVI marine environment for the benefit of all future generations.

Darwin Plus is a UK government grants scheme that funds projects that aim to protect the unique biodiversity and improve resilience to climate change within the UK Overseas Territories. See

The Marine Conservation Society is the United Kingdom’s leading ocean charity, advancing cleaner, better-protected, healthier seas. The charity works to highlight the importance of our ocean, and the life within it, through working with government, industry and education, to take action to restore and protect the marine environment. MCS has been running Community Voice Method projects since 2010 to include communities in discussions about marine conservation solutions – find out more at

The University of Exeter combines world-class research with excellent student satisfaction, from campuses in the South West of England, in Exeter and Cornwall. They are one of the very few universities to be both a member of the Russell Group and have a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).



Sonjé Greenidge

Information Officer II
Department of Information and Public Relations (GIS)
Telephone: 468-2742