Hurricanes and Hangovers and Other Tall Tales and Loose Lies from the Coconut Telegraph by Dear Miss Mermaid

Fishing Permits: 

      It is illegal for non-British Virgin Islanders to remove any marine organism from BVI waters without a recreational permit.

A permit is available for charterers who intend to fish while in the BVI. The cost is $35 ($10 application fee; $25 for the permit).

This TEMPORARY FISHING PERMIT can be obtained from the Department of Conservation and Fisheries:

Department of Conservation and Fisheries,
The Quastisky Building
PO Box 3323
Road Town, Tortola. Tel: (284) 494-5681/3429 or (284) 468-3701 ex. 5555/1
Fax: (284) 494-2670

The removal of any marine organism from British Virgin Islands waters is illegal for non-BVIslanders without a recreational fishing permit. Contact The Ministry of Natural Resources & Labour, (284) 468-3701 ext. 2147, for information.

The government office closes early on Friday afternoons and doesn’t reopen until Monday morning. For charterers arriving on the weekend, it may be a couple of days before you can get a permit. When you arrive for your charter, check with the local staff for advice on obtaining a permit.

SPEAR FISHING is not permitted in the BVI. The use of SCUBA equipment to capture or remove any marine animal or coral is against the law. Fishing within the boundaries of any marine park is strictly forbidden.


CIGUATERA. This is a serious disease which is carried by many reef fish in the BVI. It is found in predatory fish around reefs such as barracuda, grouper, snapper and jacks as well as puffer fish and parrot fish. “CATCH AND RELEASE” is encouraged unless fishing with a guide who is aware of which fish, caught in which areas are safe for human consumption. See for more information on this disease.

BONEFISHING. There is excellent bonefishing in the BVI particularly on Anegada. Other BVI locations are not as vast as Anegada’s miles of reef. There is a small but accessible spot west of the Beef Island bridge. A local guide is recommended.

FLY FISHING. As well as bonefishing, saltwater fly fishing is popular for permit and tarpon. If you are interested in arranging fly fishing with guide while in the BVI, contact: Caribbean Fly Fishing, (284) 494-4797; e-mail:; website:

While sailing, you can drag a line to catch surface feeding fish such as Spanish mackerel, kingfish (also called king mackerel) or tuna. Barracuda may be poisonous and should always be returned.

At anchor, or from the shore, drop in a line for yellowtail snapper or triggerfish along with kingfish. These fish are commonly caught by local fishermen using fishing traps. Get advice on distinguishing the yellowtail snapper from grunts, which they resemble. There are three types of triggerfish: the black one is poisonous, the dark one is used commercially and the yellow one is the rare and exotic queen triggerfish which should be released. While quite distinct to knowledgeable eyes, the triggerfish has a lot of“cousins” from filefish, trunkfish, boxfish – all with odd shapes and some very poisonous.

Remember, many of the reef fish carry ciguatera. “CATCH & RELEASE” is recommended unless fishing with a local guide who is knowledgeable.

Directory of the British Virgin Islands