- Section 102. Definitions
- For the purpose of this Chapter and unless the context otherwise requires:
- (a) "Animal life" means any member of any non-domesticated species of the animal kingdom, whether reared in captivity or not, and includes all species occurring within the jurisdiction of the United States Virgin Islands, whether mammal, fish, bird, amphibian, reptile, mollusk, crustacean, arthropod, coelenterate or other invertebrate, and includes any part, product, egg, or offspring thereof, or the carcass or parts thereof.
(b) "Aquarium fish" means any species of freshwater or marine life including, in addition to vertebrates and invertebrates, all species of freshwater and marine plant life, and all corals, whether living or dead, captured or taken for the purposes of display.
(c) “Commission” means the Endangered Species Preservation Commission as created by section 103 of this chapter.
(d) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Planning and Natural Resources.
(e) "Endangered species" means any species of animal life or plants which have been listed by the Federal or Territorial governments as "endangered".
(f) "Exotic species" means any foreign or introduced species.
(g) “Feral species" means domestic animals, which have reverted to a wild state. The only birds, which might be included in this definition are poultry.
(h) “Fish or wildlife” means any member of the animal kingdom, including without limitation, any mammal, fish, bird (including any migratory, nonmigratory, or endangered bird for which protection is also afforded by treaty or other international agreement), amphibian, reptile, mollusk, crustacean, arthropod or other invertebrate, and includes any part, product, egg, or offspring thereof, or the dead body or parts thereof.
(i) "Indigenous species" means any species of animal life, including migratory animals arriving in the Virgin Islands as part of their normal migration but does not include certain vermin or feral species. The definition also includes all plants occurring and living naturally in the Virgin Islands.
(j) "Live rock" means any piece of coral (dead or alive), substrate or other material to which is attached, or which supports, any marine life form of any kind whatsoever.
(k) "Mangrove" means any of three species of woody plants known as "red mangrove" Rhizophora mangle, "black mangrove" Avicennia germinans, and "white mangrove" Laguncularia racemosa.
(l) "Plant" means any freshwater, marine or terrestrial plant and alga, including seeds, roots, and other parts thereof.
(m) "Threatened species" means any species of animal life or plants which have been listed by the Federal or Territorial governments as "threatened".
(n) "Vermin" means certain species of animal life inherently destructive to homes, livestock or crops, and. which may be capable of carrying diseases harmful to man. For the purpose of this Chapter, these species are: house mouse (Mus musculus), mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus), Norway rat (Rattus norvegieus), pearly-eyed thrasher (Margarops fuscatus), roof (black) rat (Rattus rattus)
- Section 103. Endangered Species Preservation Commission
- (a) There is hereby created within the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, an Endangered Species Preservation Commission which shall be composed of the Commissioner of Planning and Natural resources, who shall be a non-voting member, ex officio, and seven other members, five of which shall consist of:
(1) The Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife,
(2) The Chief of the Bureau of Environmental Education,
(3) The Chief of the Bureau of Fisheries,
(4) The Chief of the Bureau of Wildlife,
(5) The Chief of Environmental Enforcement of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.
(b) The other two members of the Commission shall be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. One shall be a resident of St. Croix and one shall be a resident of the St. Thomas-St. John district. The two appointed members shall possess training and education in either botany, zoology or biology.
(c) The Commission shall elect a Chairman from among its members. Four voting members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of all business of the Commission. A majority of those voting members present shall decide all matters before the commission. The Commission may adopt such other rules as it deems necessary to conduct its business.
(d) Appointed members of the Commission shall serve a term of two years and may be reappointed. Upon the conclusion of the term of any appointed member of the Commission, such person shall continue to serve until a new member has been appointed. The appointed members of the Commission shall receive the sum of $50 for each day or part thereof spent in the performance of their duties. Every member of the Commission shall be reimbursed for necessary travel, subsistence and other expenses actually incurred in the discharge of his duties as a member of the Commission. Appointed members of the Commission may be removed by the Governor for cause.
- Section 104. Powers and Duties of the Commission
- (a) In addition to all powers and duties specifically assigned the Commission by this chapter, the Commission shall have the primary responsibility for identification and preservation of threatened and endangered species in the Territory. In addition, the Commission shall have oversight for the implementation of the provisions of this chapter and the provisions of the “Endangered Species Act of 1973”. Pub. L. 98-205, Dec 28, 1978, 81 Stat 884, and amendments thereto, codified in 16 U.S.C. section 1531 et seq., which are hereby adopted and made applicable to the Commission and the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.
(b) The Commission is charged with the responsibility for the conservation and protection of endangered or threatened species of animals and plants within the territory of the United States Virgin Islands. In order to carry out this mandate, the Commission shall determine whether any species as defined in section 102 hereof, is an endangered species, or threatened species because of any of the following factors:
- (A) The present of threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
(B) Commercial activity or overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
(C) Disease or predation;
(D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
(E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
(c) The Commission shall, from time to time, by regulation, list such species as it determines are endangered or threatened as defined in section 102 hereof. In making such determination, the Commission shall, consistent with federal rules and regulation pertaining to conservation of threatened and endangered species, further determine which species shall be changed in status from a threatened species to an endangered species.
(d) The Commission shall make determinations required by this section solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available to it after conducting a review of the status of the species and after taking into account these efforts, if any, being made by any state or foreign country, or any political subdivision thereof, to protect such species, whether by predator control, protection of habitat and food supply, or other conservation practices, within any area under its jurisdiction, or on the high seas.
(e) In addition to the powers and duties set forth in subsections (a) through (d) of this section, the Commission shall:
- (1) Promulgate rules and regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter; provided, however, that no such rules or regulations shall be promulgated unless public hearings are held by the commission after appropriate notice. Any rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to this chapter may be modified, amended or revised by the Legislature in accordance with the provisions of subsection (b) section 913 Title 8 of this code.
(2) Prepare and submit to the Legislature of the United States Virgin Islands, for adoption, any additional plans and undertake any studies it deems necessary and appropriate to better accomplish the purposes, goals and policies of this chapter; and
(3) Evaluate progress being made towards the implementation of the provisions of this chapter and submit a report to the Governor and Legislature on an annual basis.
- Section 105. Prohibited activities
- (a) No person may take, catch, possess. injure, harass, kill or attempt to take, catch, possess, injure, harass, or kill, or sell or offer for sale, or transport or export, whether or not for sale, any indigenous species, including live rock; except that persons holding valid fishing or hunting licenses, scientific or aquarium collecting permits, or indigenous species retention permits, may operate within the scope and under the terms and conditions expressed in those licenses and permits.
(b) No person may take, catch, or possess, or attempt to take, catch or possess, any specimen of an endangered or threatened species unless such persons holds a valid collecting permit from the Federal Government in the case of Federally listed species, or a Territorial permit in the case of an exclusively territorially listed species.
(c) No person may ship, transport, or export any specimen of an endangered or threatened species, or parts or produce thereof, whether for sale or not, unless such person holds a valid Federal permit in the case of a Federally listed species, or a valid Territorial permit in the case of an exclusively territorial listed species.
(d) It shall be unlawful for any person to import or introduce, or cause the importation or introduction to the Virgin Islands of any species of plant or animal, which does not naturally occur in the Territory without the express written permission of the Commissioner.
(e) No person may harass, injure or kill, or attempt to do the same, or sell or offer for sale any specimen, or parts or produce of such specimen, of an endangered or threatened species.
(f) No person may prune, cut, remove, or otherwise disturb any growth of mangroves, whether on private land or not, unless a permit for such pruning, cutting or removal has been obtained in advance from the Commissioner, and the person is acting within the scope of that permit
(g) No person may disturb, damage or remove the nest, or contents of any nest of any indigenous, endangered species. The nests of all seabirds come within the protection of this subsection.
(h) No person may operate a helicopter or fixed wing aircraft over a sea bird rookery on an off lying island or cay at an altitude of less than one thousand (1,000) feet, or approach such island or cay closer than 1/2 mile, except for regularly scheduled commercial flights which, when in a landing pattern approach the Cyril E. King Airport must, for safety reasons, go over Little Saba and Flat Cay, St. Thomas United States Virgin Islands, at an altitude of less than one thousand (1,000) feet. A concerted flight by seabirds in conjunction with an over flight shall be deemed prima facie evidence of a violation of this subsection.
(i) Nothing in this section shall prevent any duly authorized agent or employee of the Federal or Territorial governments, or person acting under such an agent or employees direct supervision, from performing any and all necessary activities within the scope of that agent’s or employees official duties.
- Section 106. Permits and Licenses
- (a) Hunting and Fishing
- (1) No hunting license shall be issued except in accordance with Title 12, Section 11, Virgin Islands Code.
(2) No commercial fishing license shall be issued except in accordance with Title 12, chapter 9A, Virgin Islands Code.
- (b) Scientists and collectors
- (1) In addition to the collection permits authorized under title 12 section 14, Virgin Islands Code, the Commissioner may issue species permits to:
- (A) Collectors for recognized museums, educational institutions, and scientific research organizations;
(B) Persons engaged in bona fide scientific research in connection with such organizations; and
(C) Persons engaged in approved recovery and propagation activities.
- (2) Such permits shall be limited to a specific number of specimens of the desired species.
(3) Such permits may only be issued for scientific or educational purposes, or to enhance the recovery or propagation of that species.
(4) Such permits shall be issued free of charge. Specimens collected may not be sold or exchanged for anything of value. A separate transit permit, as described in subsection (d) of this section, shall be required before such specimens may be removed from the Territory.
- (c) Aquarium Collectors
- (1) The commissioner may issue permits to aquarists, collectors, and other persons desiring to collect specimens of marine life forms, including live rock, whether or not for sale, and whether or not intended for shipment or export. There are three categories:
- (A) A private aquarist collecting, not for sale but for a personal aquarium of not ore than fifty (50) gallons capacity;
(B) A person maintaining an aquarium of any size for a commercial purpose; and
(C) A collector for shipment, export and sale.
- (2) Such permit in all cases must specify the methods of collection to be employed, the place or places where such collection activities will be conducted, any restriction on the number of such species or numbers of specimens to be taken, any specific requirements for the safe handling and storage of the specimens and reports to be filed.
(3) Permits issued under subparagraphs (1)B and (1)C above shall contain a schedule of fees based on a percentage of the wholesale market value of the species for which the permit is issued. The fee shall not be less than ten (10) percent of the established wholesale price of that species in Miami, Florida. Such fees shall be payable in advance and are non-refundable.
- (d) Transit Permits
- (1) Any person desiring to ship or transport any live indigenous species from the territory shall first obtain a transit permit from the Commissioner.
(2) Such a permit shall specify:
- (A) The Species involved;
(B) The number of specimens of each species;
(C) Any special shipping restrictions;
(D) The name and address of consigner and consignee; and
(E) Evidence that all the necessary fees have been paid.
- (e) Mangrove Permits.
- (1) The policy of the Territory is to prevent a net loss of wetlands to the maximum extent possible.
(2) The Commissioner may issue permits, on a case by case basis, for the pruning, cutting or removal of mangrove trees by species and area, in accordance with Title 12, Chapter 21, Virgin Islands Code.
- (f) Indigenous species Retention Permits
- The Commissioner is authorized to issue permits to persons in possession of indigenous species, allowing them to retain such species for the treatment of injury or disease, propagation, or any other purpose consistent with the preservation, protection, conservation and enhancement of such indigenous species.
- Section 107. Penalties
- Any person violating any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be subject to a fine of not less than $100, and not more than $10,000. Such person may also be sentenced to serve a term in jail of not more than sixty (60) days. For the purpose of assessing the penalty, each specimen or an indigenous species, endangered or threatened animal or plant, or mangrove shall be considered a separate offence.