Beachgoers frolick at Cane Garden Bay last year. A new draft policy would guide the use of beaches around the territory. (File Photo: FREEMAN ROGERS)

Government is asking the public to comment on a recently released draft Beach Use Policy.

The document seeks to set guidelines in various areas: the definition of a beach; the governmental agencies responsible for management and maintenance; and the different kinds of permission that must be sought for beach use, among others.

“We value our beaches and want to ensure their ecological integrity and ability to fulfill various social and cultural needs in the long term,” said Joseph Smith-Abbott, the deputy secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration. “Therefore, we want to ensure that a dialogue ensues, which incorporates the public’s feedback regarding the manner in which they should be managed.”

The policy can be accessed on the government’s website by clicking the link to “Environment | Government of the Virgin Islands.”

Residents are urged to read the draft policy and weigh in by submitting their feedback on the electronic form that accompanies the document. Public consultations will also be held in the coming weeks to further allow further discussions, according to government. Feedback forms will be available at the sessions.

The announcement follows a recent promise made in the House of Assembly by NRLI Minister Vincent Wheatley to introduce a new beach policy, environmental bill, marine survey, and marine and land estate policy.

“What will future generations think of us if you continue to pollute our water, our lands, and our air?” he asked. “What will they say if we continue to fill in ponds, destroy mangroves and poison our oceans? These are serious concerns that we have to tackle and resolve, and that we will do.