Cruzan lobsterman leads an armada of angry fishing vessels bent on the war path. After continued harassment from armed St. Thomian and St. Johnian naval vessels, the aquaculture community of St. Croix has vowed to fight back.
Tarzan Mercury ~ TravelPoliticsSport Contributor.
Divi Carina Bay, Christiansted, St Croix, USNA-VI
When lobster boat Bonne Esperance hobbled back into the safety of Christiansted Harbor, it bore the scars of battle at sea. In a scrape with coastal raiders from St. John and rogue Coast Guard units from St. Thomas, The Bonne Esperance made a daring escape under a hail of fire. Bullet holes, scorch marks, and signs of ramming are visible all over the lobster boat. The ships nuclear powered mini-core was reported to be in stable condition with no fear of meltdown. Officials from St. Croix’s Fishing and Aquaculture department stated the Bonne Esperance had been illegally boarded, its crew shackled and searched, and their whole catch of spiny lobster and tuna fish confiscated without any legal right or compensation. As an added blow to the ships livelihood, the St. Johnian Coastal Cutters threw the nets, traps, and remaining equipment from the Esperance overboard.
Before the attack, Cruzan lobster and fishing trawlers along with a handful of other vessels were setting traps and lines only one mile west of Saba island. The formerly Dutch owned colony, now totally abandoned, has some of the richest fish stocks remaining in Caribbean waters. Erosion and poor land management were blamed for the desertification of Saba island, and now only a small group of stubborn Dutch nationals refuse to leave their former capital city, The Bottom.
It is said a cadre of pre-med students refused to leave the Saba University School of Medicine, building a makeshift community on the wreckage of their former campus. The rouge group has been collecting rainwater, and are rumored to live on a vegetarian and insect protein diet. Cruzans have many superstitions about the island and while they are willing to fish just offshore, no one steps foot on the island itself. Some locals back on St. Croix don’t believe the group are friendly vegetarians, instead thinking the tribal med students practice cannibalism. Either way, Cruzans are fishing the plentiful waters off the shores of Saba under constant threat from their sister islands in the Caribbean, and a rising Greater Brasilia.
Cruzan fishing vessels have extended their territorial range in response to thinning populations of tuna, spiny lobster, and sardines. The St. Croix Aquaculture Union has formally claimed rights to waters abandoned by other islands, and have begun fishing further west and south than ever before. Backed by the United States of North America, Cruzan fisherman find themselves not only in competition with their Caribbean sister islands but also the growing appetite of Greater Brasilia, as the emerging empire requires more and more seafood to feed a expansive population. Brazilian Fishing conglomerates have also pushed their government to make declarations asserting their own rights to fish as far north as the Sargasso Sea. However, with fewer fish, competition has speed up exponentially and the Virgin Islands find themselves on the eve of open conflict. St. Croix and the USNA face off across the Caribbean Sea against Greater Brasilia. The South American empire is flexing its new muscle, using St. John, St. Thomas, and other recent island purchases from a struggling United Kingdom and a coin-poor Danish/Dutch Cooperative, playing the island chains as proxy units in a tropical game of Battleship.
Local politicians from St. Croix have called this latest interdiction beyond tolerable, saying the proud island will not stand for being bullied and harassed. Able Jones, the loudest voice in the mayor’s house has threatened armed invasion and beach landings at French Bay on St. Thomas, and at Jolly Harbor on St. John. The Cruzan politicians cite repeated episodes where their islands fishing boats have been unjustly boarded, and have had their catches seized as more than adequate grounds to defend themselves with force if necessary. One often talked about incident saw a group of Coastal Cutters from St. John surround, ram, and sink a pleasure yacht from St. Croix with over twenty people aboard. The St. Johnian Cutters then went on to use water cannons to spray those survivors bobbing in the water. Only three Cruzans survived as they were eventually plucked from the water and taken into custody on false charges of drug trafficking.
Animosity grows on St. Croix, and the local fisherman, conch, and lobsterman have formed self defense flotillas, using the convoy system so effective during WW2. The previous battle of the Caribbean Sea saw Allied units rally against intense Nazi submarine pressure. The waters of the Caribbean have seen their fair share of naval warfare going back to Incans or Aztecs rowing on the Gulf of Mexico. Interviewed as he scrubbed barnacles, hovership Captain Jack Tulliver stated, “We Cruzans can’t take anymore losses, it’s all a big insult anyway. It’s just too difficult to tell another fisherman’s family their husband’s ship was rammed, sunk. They can’t recover, and I can’t look anyone else in the face and say it again.”
Captain Tulliver heads a quick patrol group with his hoverboat the Minnow. He usually goes on patrol accompanied by a lobsterman named Luc, whose cigarboat has a number of harpoon guns, and a set of mini guns effective against anti-ship missiles. The two naval defense grade boats, along with a handful of other volunteers try to protect what’s left of St. Croix’s fishing and aquaculture industry. St. Croix still represents the eastern most tip of the American empire and has become an important island stronghold in the face of rising Brazilian pressure in the Caribbean and Southern Atlantic.
Greater Brasilia which occupies most of the eastern coast of South America, recently entered into a decade long trade deal with the Chinese Union for the import of Martian salmon. They signed a deal to be the main consumer of hatchery based fish stocks that China has made a staple of the Red Planets agri/aquacultural economy. Mars fisheries send over 100 billion tons of salmon and other farm raised fish to Earth every year. Still, people prefer blue water fish, and demand for Caribbean shellfish has exploded with the emergence of a rising Brazilian middle class. So as resources get sparse, the United States of North America has emboldened St. Croix to press its territorial waters claim and to act as a buttress against an expansive Greater Brasilia.
The incident at sea that crippled the Bonne Esperance included the capsizing of two other Cruzan fishing trawlers. St. Thomian Coast Guard units under direct control from the Brazilian Navy circled the Cruzan ships firing live rounds, as well as launching flares and tear gas at those crew members exposed on the fishing boats top decks. The Cruzan boats were destined to be corralled and captured until the sound of blaring conch shell broke through the hectic noise, and the sight of captain Tulliver with his patrol group of lobsterman armed to the teeth appeared on the horizon. The captain led rescue ships cutting through the St. Thomian blockade and escorted the damaged fishing trawlers back to the sanctuary of Christansted harbor.
All three Virgin Islands are hardening their defenses should any belligerent attempt a first strike or troop landings. St. Croix has deployed Civil Defense units to Buck Island to secure the nature persevere and repel any incursion from the stepping stone just offshore. The Christiansted Seaplane base is operating around the clock. USNA military advisers have been arriving steadily over the last few days via Marine Ospreys. Preparations continue on the island in case hostilities escalate.
Reports from St. Thomas have it that Fort Christian has been re-militarized and retrofitted with anti-ship cannons and guns. Most shocking, news from the USVI capital city of Charlotte Amelie reports the Caribbean Congress has revoked St. Croix’s charter membership in The Virgin Islands Ecological and Defense League. Cruzan’s have been excluded from the economic bloc’s lucrative trade agreements worldwide, and have been forced to rely solely on the USNA as a trade partner along with a scattering of left leaning Latin American citystates.
The situation is getting further from a resolution as the islands have found no common ground in negations. The fishing and tourism industries have begun to suffer and quarterlies due next month are going to reflect the dramatic drop in fish hauls. So it is with great hope the representatives of each Virgin Island, as well as ambassadors from the USNA and Brasilia can meet next week at the Divi Bay Resort, and find a political solution before a war between fisherman blows up into a war between North and South America.