The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) in collaboration with the BVI Marine Association have launched a new initiative called ‘Operation Island Watch’, which was designed to offer mariners a tool for reporting suspicious activity in and around the territory’s borders and shorelines.
The RVIPF said in a media release following the launch yesterday that the types of suspicious activity being described range from illegal fishing, illegal smuggling or trafficking, illegal dumping, or any other unlawful use of the territorial waters or shores.
Operation Island Watch does not only seek to engage the help of seafarers such as boat captains and sailers but also regular beachgoers.
“By giving no more than a few details, law enforcement is provided with the information needed to respond quickly and apprehend potential suspects,” Head of the Marine Branch, Inspector Lesroy Simmons stated.
The police have also create a brochure to support Operation Island Watch, and affixed on that document is a scannable QR code. Chief Inspector Louis Buckley said this code will immediately take persons to the police watch site where they would be able to log any suspicious details.
“All we need is a line or two. No other information is required or requested,” Chief Inspector Buckley said.
A dinghy safety brochure was also created in conjunction with the operation and is now available for charter companies, captains and sailing visitors. This brochure lists safety tips for persons travelling in a dinghy, and these tips include maintaining a safe speed, wearing a kill cord and a lifejacket, and practicing safe loading.
Meanwhile, the Marine Association’s role in the initiative has been to fund the operation. Other stakeholders such as the Virgin Islands
Search and Rescue (VISAR) have also come on board to offer their endorsement.
“I see this being a win-win for all concerned. The BVI is considered the sailing capital of the world, and we must help to protect this destination at all costs. I think I speak for many within the boating community when I say that I am happy to be part of this initiative and any such initiative that promotes safety and security in our waters,” said VISAR’s Operation Manager, Phil Aspinall.