Press Release: by US CBP on Regulated Garbage, May 5, 2020

Press Release: by US Customs and Border Protection, May 5, 2020

The United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recognizes the unprecedented challenges the current COVID-19 pandemic poses. However, we must also remember there are other diseases that can affect our food chain, like Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), African Swine Fever (ASF), New Castle, as well as plant and fruit (Med FLY) diseases.

The United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulates foreign garbage that is of plant or animal origin, including food scraps, packaging materials, and any items that have come in contact with these materials.

Private vessel owners are reminded that regulated garbage cannot be thrown into domestic garbage containers or disposed of at the local landfill. Regulated garbage must be handled by an APHIS-approved facility that is capable of incinerating or sterilizing the garbage.

Vessels owners arriving from foreign to US Virgin Islands must ensure that all foreign garbage is placed in covered leak-proof containers and within the vessel railings while in U.S. waters.

In view of the above, if you need to off-load your garbage at a USVI port of entry, please notify CBP Agriculture Specialist Unit for guidance. For the St. Thomas/St. John area, please call 340-774-4554, for St. Croix USVI area please call 340-778-1696. You may also contact the CBP Agriculture Unit Supervisors:

St. Thomas/St. John

Supervisory CBP Agriculture Specialist

340-774-4554 (O)


St. Croix

Supervisory CBP Agriculture Specialist

340-778-1696 (O)

340-474-9487 (C)

*In addition, for the St. Thomas/St. John area you may contact Mr. Nate Fletcher, approved permit holder and hauler for the USVI National Park at 508-202-3953.

The hauler will transport regulated garbage to the approved USDA handling facilities at Yacht Haven to ensure proper handling and disposal.

In accordance to regulatory requirements, all off-loaded garbage can only be handled by establishments authorized by APHIS to properly dispose of this material and must only be placed in containers labeled “Foreign Garbage”, “Regulated Garbage” or “lnternational Garbage”.

Dumping of foreign garbage into U.S. territorial waters or non-designated garbage receptacles is illegal, and under Federal law subject to fines. 

Other mitigating measurements

Vessels may remove or “purge” their stores and garbage and disinfect, if required, to attain “domestic status.” By purging their stores and garbage, vessel owners are provided an opportunity to reduce their costs associated with garbage removal. Vessel owners wishing to have their vessel arriving from foreign countries purged must contact the local CBP office listed above. Vessels may also be purged after travel from Hawaii or a U.S. territory or possession if PPQ, CBP or APHIS designated inspectors are available. However, the purge is only valid while in Hawaii or the U.S. territory or possession where the purge occurred.

You may also visit USDA

Please note that CBP will continue to evaluate the situation and provide updated guidance as appropriate.

VIPCA works on Regulation of Certain Garbage for waiver for VI yachts

The Regulation of Certain Garbage (CFR Title 9 Part 94.5 and Title 7 part 330.400-330.401) is currently being enforced by CBP outreach subsequent to an order by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Enforcement is for ALL U.S. Ports, which includes the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This is not a local CBP vendetta against yachts in the territory, moreover application of a federal law with increased enforcement owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This weekend VIPCA has been in communication with both the Director of VI CBP and the Governors’ Office. Resultantly the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been contacted and it has been explained to USDA that the majority of vessels presently in USVI waters have garbage which was provisioned locally and not international, as they have been “in-place” for at least two months. The regional Agricultural Specialist will be able to determine whether a “technical waiver” may be provided to those yachts.

IYBA Webinar – VIPCA Presenting

VIPCA’s executive director Oriel Blake presented at the IYBA webinar on Charter Destination Update with 259 registered participants.


Airlines Resume Service to the U.S. Virgin Islands 




Contact: Monifa Marrero-Brathwaite | Public Information Officer 

(340) 774-1629 or 340-244-1065 / 

May 1, 2020 

Airlines Resume Service to the U.S. Virgin Islands 

After several weeks of reduced airlift to the U.S. Virgin Islands due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Virgin Islands Port Authority has been notified that air service to the USVI will resume this month. VIPA provided the following update regarding the airlines that service the territory: 

  • Air Sunshine is providing flights to foreign Caribbean islands based on demand. 
  • American Airlines is operating one roundtrip flight per day from Miami, FL to St. Thomas and one flight a day from Miami, FL to St. Croix. American will have no flights to the territory on May 5 and 6 and will resume service on May 7. There will be no Tuesday flights during the month of May. 
  • Cape Air is providing service between St. Thomas, St. Croix, and San Juan with cancellations as necessary based on passenger loads. 
  • Delta Air Line will resume service on May 2 with roundtrip service between Atlanta, Georgia and St. Thomas and Atlanta to St. Croix. Beginning May 8, Delta will provide flights to St. Thomas on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Service to St. Croix will remain on Saturdays only, via a connecting flight from St. Thomas. 
  • JetBlue is providing service between St. Thomas and San Juan. 


  • LIAT has extended its suspension of service between Antigua and St. Thomas until May 15, 2020. 
  • Seaflight will provide service between St. Thomas and St. Croix on demand. 
  • Silver Airways (Seaborne) is operating its airport and seaplane service with cancellations as necessary based on passenger loads. There will be no seaplane service on May 2 and May 3. 
  • Spirit resumed roundtrip service from Ft. Lauderdale to the USVI today, May 1. The flight will arrive in St. Thomas, connect through St. Croix, and return to Ft. Lauderdale. Spirit will provide service on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays during the month of May. 
  • United Airlines will provide a roundtrip flight from Houston, TX to San Juan, then to St. Thomas beginning May 8. 

VIPA encourages travelers to call their airline directly for updated flight information before arriving at the airport. Travelers are also asked to adhere to federal and local health guidelines for travel and wear masks while traveling. In addition, travelers are encouraged to arrive on time for their departures as staffing for federal screening services has been reduced. 

The Virgin Islands Department of Health and the Virgin Islands National Guard will be conducting screening of all arriving travelers throughout the month of May. VIPA will continue to work closely with all stakeholders to ensure a safe experience at the territory’s airports for the traveling public and the airports’ tenants and employees.

updated Department of Natural Resources (DRNA in Spanish) 2020-07F order for Puerto Rico’s marinas following the latest governmental ordinance:

We have received the updated Department of Natural Resources (DRNA in Spanish) 2020-07F order for Puerto Rico’s marinas following the latest governmental ordinance: COMUNICACIÓN-NÚM.-2020-07F-Marinas-DRNA-17-ABR-2020
1) Recreational boating is prohibited no matter what until lockdown is lifted
2) Haul out services may be provided granted you have a reservation that dates March 14 or before. Evidence must be provided regarding the reservation date and the vessel must remain hauled out for a minimum of 120 days.
3) You are allowed to bring your vessel back to a Puerto Rican marina from a jurisdiction other than Puerto Rico if it is your official designated “homeport”
4) Only commercial fishing and relevant essential authorities are allowed free transit into marinas.
5) Vessels purchased by Puerto Rican residents before March 14 at other jurisdictions will be allowed into Puerto Rico.
PUERTO DEL REY MARINA & SHIP YARD: DRNA has amended the Communication, now 2020-07F that states that vessels that have Puerto Del Rey as their homeport or had confirmed participation in Hurricane Tie Down before March 14, 2020 may come to Puerto Del Rey, spend two weeks in quarantine and then be hauled out. Should you choose to wait until after May 3rd, PDR will not be able to confirm a specific haul out date. If you agree to being hauled out, please write to us at at the earliest practical time, so we can schedule a mutually convenient date and time.
– Immediately: Email and confirming you are in the Marina and wish to haul out.
– Arrange for stay while your vessel is on land. There are no live-aboards allowed in the tie down area. Subject to availability, the Marina has apartments and suites available for rent (also subject to additional COVID-19 restrictions under OE-2020-033). Please write to for further information.
– 48 Hours BEFORE haul out: o Mark vessel with tape where Travel-lift slings must be placed.
– Purchase of straps- These may be delivered to the vessel. Please email with the number of straps you need and payment form.
– Make sure you have proper personal protective equipment (masks and gloves).


Release Date:  April 27, 2020



St. John, US Virgin Islands – Virgin Islands National Park announces an expanded water quality testing program to assess fecal coliform bacteria within key boat mooring areas.


The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in use changes in park bays where many vessels are mooring. For many years park staff have monitored fecal coliform bacteria levels monthly at Maho, Hawksnest, and Trunk Bay beaches, in accordance with EPA recreational water quality standards.  Water samples are analyzed by an EPA and state-certified lab in St. Thomas.


The monitoring frequency at these areas was increased on April 13 to weekly sample collection.  We are pleased to report the results are well-within the safe limits for swimming under EPA recreational water quality standards.  The monitoring program was also expanded April 13 to include randomized sample collection at eight additional locations in the park, and, in Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument, the bays of Hurricane Hole.  The previous and expanded areas now encompass about 90% of the boat mooring areas in the park.


Weekly samples provide a general indicator for discharges of fecal coliform bacteria, and collection sites are randomized within each bay.  The results from the previous two weeks are well below EPA threshold limits for recreational water and are consistent with baseline values the park has collected for several years.  Based on water quality test results from samples collected and analyzed the past few weeks, the bays and beaches within the park and in the monument, the bays of Hurricane Hole, are safe for swimming and other activities.


The expanded water sampling sites, as well as an increased sample frequency to weekly collection at the existing three sites, will continue as long as the Territory is under a state of emergency.  The park will provide periodic updates to the community regarding future sample results.


The park wishes to thank the mariners staying for extended periods in both territorial and park waters for their diligence in assuring that to either discharge waste a minimum three miles from shore or arranging for a pump out service.


The NPS encourages people who choose to visit the waters of Virgin Islands National Park during this pandemic to adhere to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and territory and local public health authorities to protect visitors and employees. As services are limited, the NPS urges visitors to continue to practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy. Law enforcement staff will remain on duty and may be reached at 1-866-995-8467.


The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working with federal, territory, and local authorities to closely monitor COVID-19. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website ( and social media channels.


Please contact Thomas Kelley at (340) 690-2440 should you have any questions.



About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.


Visit us at, on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube



Recognizing Positive Stewardship on the Water

Crews in St. Thomas have been organizing weekly food orders shared between multiple boats to obtain goods from a local farm and local baker.  Sugar Brown Farms delivered to Crown Bay Marina to one crew representative, wearing mask and gloves.  Safe distance was kept and payment collected online.  Crews in St. John have also organized group orders with Sugar Brown Farms who met their representative in Red Hook.  Love City Lunchbox has been delivering fresh bread orders by powerboat to crews in Brewer’s Bay, St. Thomas, while also keeping safe distance and wearing gloves in the exchange of goods.

Several crews have also created chat groups and radio support networks within their current harbors in effort to share news & updated protocols set forth by the Government of the USVI.  These groups are also coordinating provisioning and trash runs, which is productive in limiting the number of crews going ashore.  Kelly, a local provisioner on St. Thomas, has asked that boats consider group orders so she too can limit her trips to the store and make more productive provisioning runs.

Consideration of our precious marine environment is very important to local charter crews and the dumping of any kind of waste is a matter taken very seriously.  Crews moored near Waterlemon Cay in St. John with scuba diving equipment recently organized a Project AWARE underwater debris cleanup of Lameshur Bay, while another crew in Brewer’s Bay has taken it upon themself to ensure that incoming vessels unfamiliar with the bay avoid anchoring on top of coral reef habitats.  Hats off to all crews doing their part to be positive stewards of the community.  We see you, and we appreciate you.

20 Day Social Media Challenge

20 Day Social Media Challenge (click here!)


We would like to invite yacht crews to participate in our 20-day Social Media Challenge that begins April 10th and ends April 29th. On the 30th of April, we will announce the winning yachts. Prizes include a MasterClass online code and a case of champagne!

The goal is to share a creative post daily according to the theme associated with each day on the attached schedule. Contestants must use the hashtag #cuphalffullvi to be counted.  You can post on Facebook, Instagram or both. Make sure to also tag VIPCA – Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association on Facebook and @vipca_usvi on Instagram. For each day you participate, you will get one point towards the MasterClass online code. 

If there is a tie at the end those yachts will be entered into a drawing for the MasterClass online code. In addition, yachts who complete all 20 days will be entered into a drawing for a case of champagne!

Our hope is that this will help keep our guests, followers and future clients engaged, while also serving as a much needed distraction for all. Focusing on the positive and showing solidarity in our industry is important as we remain #vistrong. Feel free to contact your VIPCA crew-representatives for any questions or concerns you have during this time or regarding this challenge. Lets get to sharing and spreading some fun!

Thank you, 

Kristi & Erika  

Crew Representative Board Directors, VIPCA

Virgin Islands Professional Charter Industry Responds to COVID-19 Concerns, Reminds Members of this Economically Vital Marine Tourism Sector of New Emergency Executive Orders

April 8, 2020


Virgin Islands Professional Charter Industry Responds to COVID-19 Concerns, Reminds Members of this Economically Vital Marine Tourism Sector of New Emergency Executive Orders


St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. A decades-strong industry and potent contributor to the U.S. Virgin Islands economy, which is often unseen due to the nature of its business, is now in full view public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 100 U.S. Virgin Islands based professionally crewed charter vessels are following U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan Jr. Jr’s Emergency Executive Orders to not accept guests and, like the territory’s shoreside populace, to shelter in place. This mandate comes at the peak of the marine tourism charter season when this fleet of U.S.-based vessels are normally scattered among the territory’s, as well as neighboring islands’, anchorages on customized 7-day itineraries for their guests. Thus, these vessels, as well as over 70 U.S.-based day charter vessels, are now docked, moored or anchored in what seems increasing numbers in the territory’s bays.

Photo: Charlotte Amalie Harbor, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Credit: Phil Blake

“The Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association (VIPCA) has 144 USVI-based charter vessel members all of whom are presently ‘grounded’ rather than cruising the Virgin Islands with tourists on board. The professional crew of these Virgin Islands-based yachts have their hearts vested in the Virgin Islands, and wish, as much as land-based residents, to preserve the health both of the people of the Virgin Islands and its environment. In addition to the home-based charter fleet there are also a combination of professionally-run charter yachts who have arrived in the USVI from islands to the south, and cruising yachts with their owners living aboard (often in retirement). VIPCA would like to emphasize to the Virgin Islands public that both home-based and visiting boaters are naturally considerate to their host islands, and will be complying with the Governor’s Executive Orders in addition to maritime regulations such as emptying sewage offshore both by free will and legal obligation,” says Oriel Blake, VIPCA executive director.




Recognizing the influx of yachts, on March 27, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan Jr. welcomed U.S.-based and other arriving vessels to the territory. He further encouraged that post-pandemic, those not based in the territory to join the USVI marine family and economy. However, the Governor, as he has outlined in his Emergency Executive Orders for safety of those on shore, reminded all vessels to abide by the orders and compliance requests of agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR), and any further Emergency Executive Orders issued by the Governor.


“We’re  asking the boaters to please adhere to the mandates issued by the Governor by registering for an anchoring permit, completing the health assessment, practicing social distancing by remaining on their vessel and limiting trips to shore, and not to onboard any passengers during this time.  We also require that all vessels follow our requirements for the disposal of solid and liquid waste. For any questions please contact DPNR’s Division of Environmental Enforcement at (340) 774-3320 in St. Thomas or (340)773-5776 in St. Croix, or by email at We look forward to your return under normal circumstances when you may experience true Virgin Islands hospitality,” says J.P. Oriol, DPNR Commissioner.


Oriol adds that his department has received over 100 anchoring applications since last Thursday.  The Department’s officers are now conducting patrols and telling boaters where to go online and get the information. DPNR has identified 19 bays on St. Thomas and Water Island, 4 in St. John and 6 in St. Croix for anchoring specifically until April 30.


Additionally, the Virgin Islands National Park (VINP) has 200 moorings and this week will announce a new mooring reservation program.


“Boaters will need either a VI permit for VI waters/bays or an NPS (National Park Service) reservation, not both,” says Nigel Fields, VINP Superintendent.


Both DPNR and the VINP remind all vessel operators that it is illegal to discharge or discard refuse of any kind within the 3 nautical mile limit of the territorial waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands.


“The professional crew of the home-based charter yachts are very respectful towards the environment and are following usual sewage discharge practices which involve taking their yacht three miles offshore before releasing their holding tanks of black and grey water. VIPCA hopes that the sizable number of visiting yachts who have arrived from other parts of the Caribbean will continue to follow the principles of good boating and shall comply with the Virgin Islands Government regulations including emptying holding tanks offshore,” Says VIPCA’s Blake.


DPNR also recommends vessels make use of online concierge services to the greatest extent possible for provisioning, more information about provisioning concierge (including local produce), trash removal and crew support networks can be found at




VIPCA’s has called on its members to be ambassadors to those visiting yachts and to assist in passing on information.


“Now more than ever, we need to lead by example as it pertains to all of the circumstances that have fallen upon us. Please encourage the Social Distancing, Quarantine-if-needed, Holding Tanks usage, respecting the policies on our beaches to all of those around you. Our role as an industry is to protect the waters, the shores, the people and the culture of the Virgin Islands as it interacts from a marine perspective. Let’s work together,” says Dare Blankenhorn, VIPCA president.


In 2019, the annual direct contribution to the U.S. Virgin Islands economy made by 150 week/term charter vessels, 75-day charter, 17 sport-fishing and 55-bareboat charter vessels was estimated at approximately $45 million. This contribution is made via support to businesses like supermarkets, fuel, restaurants, hotels, taxis, diving/fishing rentals, laundry, port authority fees and dockage. The marine industry is one of the most resilient and was one of the first to generate tourism revenues for the territory after the 2017 hurricanes. Marine tourism offers immediate expansion possibilities. By welcoming these yachts to the territory during the world’s State of Emergency resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, provided that they abide by the rules and that their crew do not come ashore until 14 days quarantine have been safely taken onboard, the Virgin Islands should hope to profit from the strengthening of the marine industry and by its expansion.


More information can be found at the DPNR website: and the VIPCA website


For additional information and questions, contact: Oriel Blake, executive director VIPCA,


ABOUT VIPCA: VIPCA is the territory’s 501(c)(6) nonprofit marine association, whose purpose is to promote, protect and further the capabilities of charter yachts and the marine businesses that sustain them. Projects and initiatives VIPCA membership supports include producing a marine directory of local information, technical advice and resources; improving Customs and Border Protection facilities; gaining ease of access for charter vessels between the USVI and Spanish Virgin Islands; compliance guidance; moving forward a proposal to manage territory wide new transient moorings; marine vocational training for V.I. youth; and surveying and cleaning up bays and mangroves under the organization’s charity fiscally sponsored by Community Foundation Virgin Islands (, VI Marine Rebuild Fund.


Media Contact:

Carol Bareuther

Tel: 340-998-3650


Skype: Carol.Bareuther

Letter to Members from VIPCA President

Dear Valued Members,
As the world continues to confront this unprecedented global pandemic, our hearts and minds continue to go out to all those affected.  Specifically, in this community we are feeling the economic impacts of these circumstances and they will have long lasting effects.  It seemed like our industry and our islands were finally back to full stride since the storms of 2017 and now we have been challenged again.  Once again, it’s time to show our resilience, our humanity, our determination, and our love for these Virgin Islands.
Currently, revenues for our tourism businesses are null and void.  There are resources and opportunities available to all of us and VIPCA has highlighted those on our website and social media pages.  If you have questions relating to these assistance packages, please feel free to reach out via email or social media.  Please take care of your employees and contractors and encourage them to seek out all opportunities that are available to them.  Our industry’s strength lies within the people working with us.  Once this pandemic ends, lets strive to be as strong as we can be.
Many of our members have voiced concerns over contractual relationships with clients and many of our contracts have done a poor job of providing direction as to how we handle a pandemic.  Unfortunately, this has burdened everyone involved.  I am recommending to all of our businesses that we take care of our clients in the best way possible as we will need them now more than ever.  Let’s lead with our ethics and encourage them to appreciate our practices as we strive to forge long-term relationships with them.  Let’s work together with our industry partners to find reasonable solutions that may sit outside our current contract definitions.  The tourism industry around the world is feeling the same pain.  Let’s please keep our niche industry and Virgin Islands culture away from criticism for the betterment of our future.  VIPCA has begun the process of addressing our contractual dilemmas and is dedicated to working toward better solutions for our term-charter industry moving forward.  Our mission has always been to represent the crew, vessels, charter brokers and marine vendors, while advocating a positive reputation locally and internationally.  This comprehensive view of our industry will guide us through this process going forward.  Your input as members is strongly encouraged.
I encourage all of you to take a look around you today and to consider what you can do to evoke a positive change on our Virgin Islands.  Now is the time for all of our members to be ambassadors for our marine environment and infrastructure.  There are more visiting yachts in our waters today than ever before, and while social distancing and “stay-at-home” policies must be adhered to, we should do our best to pass the important and pertinent information on to those that have just entered our waters.  All of this information has been provided by VIPCA through our social media pages and website.  I would also encourage all VIPCA yachts to fly their burgees as a beacon of information and support to these visiting yachts and yachts-people.  In order to protect our Virgin Islands, we need to inform everyone of the current policies that affect those currently residing within our borders.  Everyone can play a part in passing the word.  As a group we can be effective.
Now that we have the time, let’s put our best foot forward.  The natural beauty of the Virgin Islands is one of our greatest assets and we should continue to show that to the world.  Please stay positive and active on your social media accounts and with your marketing efforts and let’s keep the Virgin Islands and its wonders in the minds of our clients. They want to be here with us, and that day will come soon.
In closing, I’d like to reiterate one fact. Now more than ever, we need to lead by example as it pertains to all of the circumstances that have fallen upon us.  Please encourage the Social Distancing, Quarantine-if-needed, Holding Tanks usage, and respecting the policies on our beaches to all of those around you.  Our role as an industry is to protect the waters, the shores, the people and the culture of the Virgin Islands from a marine perspective.  Let’s all work together.
Stay Safe, and let’s continue to build on our collective future.
Dare Blankenhorn
President, VIPCA