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Governor Bryan Convenes 1st Meeting Of Marine Task Force In St. Thomas

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. on Tuesday convened the first meeting of his Marine Task Force, a group of private sector people representing all aspects of the marine industry in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The purpose of the Marine Task Force is to revitalize and grow the marine industry in the territory to boost the economy, create jobs for residents through workforce development and enhance the USVI’s tourism product. The task force is intended to be a public-private partnership between marine-based businesses and the government.

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. listens as Gold Coast Yachts shipbuilding owner Rich Difede, right, makes a point during the inaugural meeting of the Governor’s Marine Task Force. Also participating were, from left, Kelvin Bailey Jr. of the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club, Dare Blankenhorn of Charter Caribe, and Harald Tapp of Offshore Marine

At its inaugural meeting, the group discussed a wide range of topics, including:

  • Building up marine infrastructure
  • Increasing moorings throughout the Territory
  • Developing Marine apprenticeship programs to broaden job opportunities for residents in the Marine industry
  • Maximizing the potential of Benner Bay on St. Thomas
  • Expanding the Marine Service industries to encourage additional vessels to stay in the U.S. Virgin Island’s marine maintenance for marine maintenance and annual vessel haul-outs
  • Streamlining the U.S. Customs process

“It was a very productive meeting and an excellent start to my Administration’s initiative of greatly enhancing our Marine Industry, increase revenue and stabilize the economy and provide more offerings for visitors,” Governor Bryan said. “The takeaway was a number of action items to get the Task Force started, and I am encouraged by the knowledge and enthusiasm of the Task Force participants.”

Among Action items that resulted from the meeting are:

  • Identifying derelict properties surrounding Benner Bay Lagoon and Salt River Bay
  • Identifying government properties for additional vessel haul-out and marine service facilities
  • Facilitating Krum Bay clean up with a $2 million CZM Marine Debris Removal Grant through the Department of Planning and Natural Resources
  • Increasing the number of permanent and day moorings
  • Providing funding for existing marine apprenticeship programs
  • Increasing participation by Virgin Islands students in vessel charter, marine service provider and shipbuilding employment opportunities

Governor Bryan also announced that DPNR vessel registration for 2020-2021 will be available online and that DPNR is currently mapping all registered vessel moorings in the territory on Google Earth. When the mapping project is completed, it will allow DPNR to connect the mooring to the owner quickly in the event of any disaster.

Additionally, the Virgin Islands Port Authority on Tuesday began the installation of new mooring cleats along the St. Thomas Waterfront. The cleats will allow berthing by luxury yachts up to 23 metric tons. Installation should be completed in two weeks, and cleats then will be installed on the Crown Bay excursion dock will be next, followed by Red Hook and Cruz Bay, St. John.  

In addition to Governor Bryan, Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte and members of the Governor’s senior policy staff, Task Force participants present at Tuesday’s meeting included:

  • Kelvin Bailey Jr., board chairman of the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club
  • Oriel Blake, executive director of the V.I. Professional Charter Association
  • Scott Bradley, representing My Brother’s Workshop’s Marine apprenticeship program
  • Dare Blankenhorn, owner of Charter Caribe
  • Rich Difede, owner of Gold Coast Yachts shipbuilders
  • Guilderoy Sprauve, organizer of the USVI Poker Run
  • Harald Tapp, representing Offshore Marine service provider

The Governor’s Marine Task Force plans to meet next in February 2020.

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