Sir Richard Branson is collaborating with the Conservation and Fisheries Department to introduce “V-notching” in the BVI. V-notching is a lobster conservation effort recently discussed with fishermen on Anegada.
Sir Richard, who regularly spearheads various environmental initiatives in the Territory, announced on 6 January that he recently travelled to Anegada with the Deputy Premier, and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Dr. the Hon. Kedrick Pickering, to speak to the local fishermen about increasing lobster numbers for future generations.
“In a nutshell (or lobster shell!!) V-notching is commercial lobster fishermen making a “V-notch” in the tail of flippers of egg bearing female lobsters. By throwing back the V-notched female lobsters it allows them to grow larger and reproduce in future years. A V-notch lasts for about two molts, roughly two to three years, depending on the size of the cut – and acts as a signal for the next fishermen that catches that lobster (whether it has eggs in it or not) that it should be returned to the water to keep the reproductive cycle going,” he explained.
According to Mr. Branson the V-notch system is the only mechanism to return a legal sized lobster back to the water to reproduce. “It reduces the catch and exploitation of females whilst dramatically increasing egg production. I explained how V-notching had been tried in Maine, an area where overfishing of lobsters was putting the future of the industry at risk.”
He further noted that by participating in V-notching, lobster fisherpersons are participating in the future. “Breeding lobsters put back in the sea are the same as putting some money in the bank. You are all banking on a great future…It’s a niche topic, but a great example of how a community can come together and make a small change, which results in a big difference,” he added.
It was announced that the Anegada fisherpersons supported the initiative: “The atmosphere was quite tense when we met with the local Anegada fishermen and we braced ourselves for disagreement. However, what appeared to be a rocky start resulted however in a nearly unanimous vote of confidence in the practice of V-notching. It was wonderful seeing the fishermen move from resistance and mistrust to willingness to embrace the idea.”
“One gentleman, taking off his hat as he addressed the group, said: “Here I came, having heard the rumours that Mr. Branson was coming down here to stop lobster fishing, to end the industry, and yet I see now that he has come to bring us a great idea.”
Additionally, Sir Branson added that the fisherpersons on Anegada are eager to begin V-notching: “Within moments, we were approached by several fishermen with requests to be sent the V-notching tool, which we have committed to purchasing for the Anegada Fishermen. We were also asked to send more information brochures on V-notching so that the information could be shared with the other fishermen who were unable to make it.”