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Keeping it Sustainable on the British Virgin Islands

Keeping it Sustainable on the British Virgin Islands

Located on the northern end of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), The Bitter End Yacht Club and Resort knows that its best feature is its pristine coastline and protected harbor for sailors. Keeping the resort beautiful without compromising comfort has always been the goal for its long time owners, the Hoken family. And serving sustainable cuisine at the Bitter End is an integral part of the resort’s commitment towards keeping their part of the island clean.

So how to they make sure the cuisine is both sustainable and delicious? It begins with careful menu planning. Because everything needs to be brought to the island by boat, the chef makes sure to order precisely what he needs to feed the guests at this all-inclusive resort without undue waste. Local fish is served daily and pieces too small to serve are saved in the fish stews. When trimming tenderloin, the pieces not large enough to serve as an entrée are used in their spectacular pepper pot stew (a shot of Pusser’s Rum can be added by guests for an extra special version of this local favorite soup).

According to executive sous chef Rodrick Beazer, fresh fruit served for breakfast goes into fruit salad for lunch and can be combined with other ingredients, including fresh herbs and lemongrass grown in their greenhouse, to make tropical salsas served at dinner. The greenhouse enables the resort to serve ripened tomatoes and okra, which makes the chef very happy. His dream, he told us, is to maintain a bee colony on the island big enough to produce large quantities of honey to use in his recipes.

Baked goods are made on the premises by talented pastry chef Winston. Known to all in the BVI as a master baker, Winston’s fresh bread and baked goods rival most found in France. As an added bonus, by baking everything onsite, packaging materials are eliminated and Winston can bake only what he needs, when he needs it, to reduce even more waste.

Everything in the kitchen from egg cartons to plastic bottles are recycled whenever possible. Anything that can go back to where they were produced and refilled is sent back by boat to begin the cycle all over again. Vegetable oil is saved and returned back to Tortola, the main city in the BVI.

In keeping with the Bitter End’s philosophy to keep the resort organic (both with the buildings and the cuisine), the commitment to sustainability is strong. The resort has always generated its own electricity and collects and distills its own water. Solar power boosts the island’s need for clean energy. The Bitter End even reuses grey wastewater from guest’s showers to irrigate the hillside plantings, so it is not surprising that their commitment to sustainable cuisine is just as strong. The food was delicious, innovative and fresh. It felt good about eating all our meals there knowing the majority of the fresh food was sourced locally, and that care is taken to preserve the island for generations to come.

Keeping it Sustainable on the British Virgin Islands - Recipes

One of the many sensible and creative concepts underpinning the BVI Business Company (and its predecessor – the international business company) is a simple statutory requirement for financial record keeping.

The requirement for a BVI Business Company is for it to keep records that:

  • are sufficient to show and explain the company's transactions and
  • will, at any time, enable the financial position of the company to be determined with reasonable accuracy.

Simple! This allowed for a great deal of flexibility by allowing the directors of the company to map the actual activities of the company to the appropriate level of financial record keeping. To directors of a BVI company, therefore, the provision was 'fit for purpose'.

In 2012, the record keeping requirements were qualified (under an amendment under the BVI's Mutual Legal Assistance (Tax) Matters Act, 2003) to mandate a BVI company to:

  1. keep at its registered agent's office (or such other place within or outside the BVI as notified in writing to the registered agent), the "records and underlying documentation of the company and
  2. retain such records for at least 5 years of completion of the transaction to which they relate or of the company terminating the business relationship relating to the relevant records. (It took two further statutory amendments but there is statutory guidance that "records and underlying documentation" includes accounts and records (such as invoices, contracts and similar documentation) in relation to (i) sums of money received and expended by the company, (ii) all sales and purchases of goods by the company and (iii) the assets and liabilities of the company.

There was never any secret made about what and whose purpose these amendments were made for. The 2012 amendment made it clear that enhanced record keeping requirements were for furtherance of achieving the objectives of the mutual legal assistance law in facilitating requests for information. Immediately after the amendments in 2012 in relation to companies, a similar amendment was made to the Partnership Act, 1996 in respect of record keeping by limited partnerships.

In 2015, amendments were also made to the Trustee Act Chapter 303 and, again to the Partnership Act, 1996 introducing similar record keeping requirements for trusts records and placing a similar obligation on all partnership (not just limited partnerships).

The wider casting of the net is intentional. The various amendments stem from the OECD's peer review process of several jurisdictions, including the BVI, conducted under the auspices of the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information armed with the Forum's Terms of Reference. The Terms of Reference against which the assessment take place describe the standards on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes as developed by the Global Forum (of which, incidentally, BVI is a member).

The legislative amendments between 2012 and now mirror the language of the record keeping and retention standard set out in paragraph A.2.2 of the Terms. This standard require jurisdictions to "ensure that reliable account records are kept for all relevant entities and arrangements", in other words, not just legal entities.

The general consensus among pundits in the BVI financial services sector is that, on close examination, the recent amendments do not impose any new obligations as such. Even so, however, the concern with the recent developments, as with most international initiatives, is that the "standard" will invariably shift and the author believes that the term "entities and arrangements" will continue to be given the widest possible interpretation thereby invariably signalling future legislative amendments or new laws.

For the time being, however, the recent efforts of the BVI on legislative, regulatory and administrative levels have, in August 2015, earned BVI the much improved and positive OECD rating of "largely compliant".

In a recent news release on the positive rating, the Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE said that:

"the BVI has a long track-record of meeting and exceeding the highest international regulatory and transparency standards and we continue to do so today. We are very pleased that this has been recognised by the OECD."

Standards of financial regulation are fast evolving in today's world and there is therefore little doubt that more legislative developments will continue to follow, not only for BVI but for the over 120 jurisdictions that have committed to international standards of tax transparency and regulation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Sustainable Agriculture

The viability of Virgin Islands agriculture is increasingly becoming dependent upon the ability of local producers to maintain competitiveness in a changing Caribbean and world market. Producers will need assistance in evaluating alternative enterprises, opportunities, and agricultural practices which will sustain our agricultural resources to ensure continued production and optimum crop yields.

  • Increase the knowledge of the staff of CES and other local and federal agriculture -support government agencies of the concept and production practices of sustainable agriculture.
  • Increase knowledge of farmers and other interested residents on the importance of sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Increase the number of farmers selecting the alternative crops and/or adopting sustainable agricultural practices on their farm sites.

Most limited resource farmers in the Virgin Islands have been using various forms of sustainable agricultural practices in their production system for many years. Several constraints were identified as factors that affected the implementation of new or improved sustainable agriculture practices. Some farmers do not keep adequate records, therefore, complete data are not available on the increase or decrease of yields. Without proper records, farmers cannot quality for federal assistance programs.

  • Develop awareness among Cooperative Extension Service, Agricultural Experiment Station, and USDA-Farm Service Agency administrators of sustainable agriculture concepts, so that they can give public support to sustainable agriculture in the V.I.
  • Promote collaborative research and extension outreach programs for alternative agriculture enterprises and sustainable production practices that are appropriate to the needs and interest of local producers.
  • Expand the training of appropriate Cooperative Extension Service, Agricultural Experiment Station, and USDA-Farm Service Agency staff to include the importance of conserving our limited natural resources.

Information on Sustainable Crop Management practices in the Virgin Islands is limited, on-farm research is important.

    Base line data are generated for future research.

At a recent farmers field day, research specialist Mr. Stafford Crossman points out the response of basil grown under various mulch types and utilizing drip irrigation.

Close examination of the impacts of trash handling on the territory's water, land, and communities have led to much concern in the VI . The local government has to find answers to the solid waste problems of these communities. One of the most effective alternatives for reducing solid waste is composting. Composting is a means of not only reducing the waste entering our landfills, but also recycling waste materials into a valuable commodity that can be used in gardening, landscaping, and for other agricultural uses. Composting will greatly improve the quality of life for residents and provide a cost saving to the people of the Virgin Islands. The Backyard Composting project targets the community's neighborhood groups, civic organizations, home-owner associations, school teachers, school aged youth, and youth groups to increase their knowledge and awareness of the importance of composting. The goal is to increase the number of residents involved in backyard composting, resulting in a substantial reduction of the amount of yard waste entering the Virgin Islands Landfills.

A large percentage of the garbage going into the landfill of the territory consists of yard waste (i.e. leaves, stems, branches).

Various government agencies and non profit organizations took part in a three day composting workshop. The participants will be involved in training others in the methodology of composting.

Mossack Fonseca fined $440,000 in British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands has fined the law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers scandal $440,000 – the largest ever penalty issued by its financial regulator – but campaigners have described the punishment as “too little too late”.

Half of the 240,000 shell companies represented by the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca were incorporated in the BVI, a UK overseas territory.

Following an investigation, the BVI Financial Services Commission (FSC) identified eight breaches by Mossack Fonseca of anti-money laundering and other regulations.

They include failure to maintain controls to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing failure to assess the risks of customers and one-off transactions failure to undertake due diligence checks on customers failure to keep up-to-date records on customers and failure to carry out proper compliance checks.

“The scale of these fines imposed on Mossack Fonseca is embarrassingly inadequate,” said Robert Barrington, executive director of Transparency International UK, which lobbies against tax havens. “Given that it took a leak for its regulator to work out what was happening in its own backyard, the BVI’s own abilities as a regulator are inevitably called into question.”

For now, Mossack Fonseca retains its licence to operate in the BVI, which gives its local subsidiary the right to incorporate and represent shell companies in the jurisdiction.

Announcing the fine, the BVI government said a thorough six-month on-site compliance inspection had been carried out at Mossack Fonseca’s local office, and that a “qualified person” had been appointed to supervise and advise the business.

“Achieving this outcome in the face of intense international scrutiny is testament to the FSC’s conviction, dedication and willingness to conduct such a thorough investigation whilst holding to account those who fail to comply with the territory’s structure and regulations,” said BVI premier and minister of finance Orlando Smith.

“Throughout this time, the FSC has cooperated fully with any requests from other international law enforcement agencies who are conducting their own independent investigations and it will continue to do so as this befits its position as regulator of a leading finance centre.”

The fine is the latest imposed on Mossack Fonseca by the FSC.

On 11 April, Mossack Fonseca was fined $31,500 for similar breaches and for failing to have secure information systems.

In the aftermath of the Panama Papers leak, the BVI government resisted calls from David Cameron’s government to introduce a central register of the real owners of shell companies. Instead, it has passed legislation requiring company formation agents like Mossack Fonseca to hold the information and make it easily accessible online by BVI law enforcement agencies.

Casual Summer Headband Series: Keeping it Casual in the British Virgin Islands!

Last month we introduced you to the contest that is taking over the world, literally. Here is this week's entry, from the picturesque Prickly Pear Island in the British Virgin islands.

Prickly Pear is an island of the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. It is uninhabited but has a beach bar and recreational water sports facility on it. It is located on the north side of North Sound, opposite Virgin Gorda.

The entire island is, theoretically, a nature refuge, but the Government controversially granted a lease of the crown lands for the restaurant and water sports facility. Adding to the controversy, the tenant has for years refused pay the appointed rent, but the Government will not support the National Parks in taking proceedings for the arrears or terminating the lease.

I'd be remiss if I didn't take this opportuinity to give a special shout-out to all of THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON's virgin followers.

British Virgin Islands corruption scandal threatens its dependable tax haven reputation

The territory, whose shell companies have repeatedly played a role in notorious global crime schemes, also may be blacklisted by the EU after the Brexit deal.

The British Virgin Islands is reeling from a corruption scandal that threatens to upend the territory’s reputation as one of the world’s most dependable tax havens.

Last week, outgoing BVI Governor Augustus Jaspert announced a commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of corruption and the misuse of millions of dollars in public funds.

The inquiry will focus on a range of claims and alarming discoveries. In a Facebook video posted during his last week as governor, Jaspert referred to accusations he heard during his time in office from officials, journalists and members of the public, including one case in which $40 million earmarked for COVID-19 relief was allegedly siphoned to political allies. In another case under investigation, the BBC reported, cocaine worth almost $250 million was found in the home of a local policeman.

The inquiry is backed by the United Kingdom, which oversees the BVI as an overseas territory. The BVI governs its domestic affairs and raises its own taxes but relies on the United Kingdom for defense and diplomatic matters.

“A consistent and deeply troubling array of concerns have been put to the Governor by local institutions and the community,” U.K. foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said in a statement to parliament. “We cannot ignore such serious allegations.”

The BVI is one of the world’s most popular tax havens and attracts legitimate business corporations, celebrities, multimillionaires, and criminals alike. The island offers cheap and simple shell companies that allow their owners to avoid registering their names in public.

While owning and piping money through BVI companies is legal, shell companies created on the island are a regular feature in the world’s most notorious scandals. BVI companies appeared in a $2 billion scheme in the name of a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the “corruption pact” that last week saw Israeli tycoon, Beny Steinmetz, sentenced to jail.

Keeping it Sustainable on the British Virgin Islands - Recipes

Producers of sustainably-sourced, premium Caribbean spiny lobster.

Delivered at the peak of freshness and directly supplied from our saltwater farms in Tortola, we are committed to raising and providing sustainably-sourced Caribbean spiny lobster of the highest quality.

Offering a ground-breaking approach to farming, Caribbean Sustainable Fisheries produces and grows high quality Caribbean spiny lobster by combining the best of the British Virgin Islands with world-class aquaculture know-how.

An evolution of ideas and the birth of a new industry - sustainable, on-land lobster farming.

Following extensive trials and testing, we have worked since 2005 to develop a sustainable grow-out system to farm lobsters on land, whilst minimising impact on the environment.

More than just a lobster farm, our operations are a way of life. We take a stand for sustainability, work to protect lobster stocks, enrich our community and empower a sustainable lifestyle.

Keep up to date with the latest happenings at Caribbean Sustainable Fisheries with our dedicated news area

Our team of aquaculture professionals are always on hand to help, so feel free to get in touch with any questions.

  • The BVI Charter Yacht Society membership, constitutes 85 independent crewed charter yachts based in the BVI that work consistently toward the goal of sustainability.

On board water makers and refillable water bottles reduce disposables solar panels and wind generators mean fewer hours of burning fossil fuels. Purchasing reef friendly products – whether for sun tanning or boat cleaning – has resulted in fewer toxic chemicals entering the water. Whether recycling glass or sails, crew will pass it along if there is another use for it. Most of our crews have joined the battle of eliminating the invasive lionfish species. The CYS’s annual show promotes sound environmental practices, offering recycling stations to educational seminars, resulting in gold certification through ‘Sailors for the Sea.’ By Janet Oliver

Virgin Limited Edition leads the way in sustainability

Virgin Limited Edition is delighted to announce it has scored a three star global Food Made Good rating the highest accolade from The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). It’s been an outstanding year for the collection and there’s even more reason to celebrate as 2016 saw Mont Rochelle and Mahali Mzuri receive their first accreditations. Virgin Limited Edition is now recognised as one of the leading sustainable hotel groups in the world and sits well above the global average on all 3 pillars that the SRA star ratings are ranked sourcing, society, and environment.

Contrary to popular belief, luxury doesn’t have to come at the expense of sustainability, and at Virgin Limited Edition we’ve been working hard to make sure one doesn’t compromise the other. At first glance you might be forgiven for thinking these unique retreats would jeopardise a sustainable lifestyle Babylon Restaurant at The Roof Gardens is 100ft above the busy streets of London, Necker Island is a private island situated in the British Virgin Islands, Kasbah Tamadot is a mountain retreat in Morocco, Ulusaba is a private game reserve in South Africa, The Lodge is a chalet in Switzerland, Mahali Mzuri is a tented safari camp in Kenya’s Maasai Mara eco-system and Mont Rochelle is a Hotel and Mountain Vineyard in Franschhoek, South Africa. At Virgin Limited Edition we don’t see problems though, we see opportunities and love any excuse to get creative!

We’re fortunate to be so close to nature at all of our properties even Babylon restaurant sits above 1.5 acres of Gardens in Kensington, London! Our locations make our teams even more passionate about protecting the area they live in and supporting it in any way they can. We know just how important it is to take care of the environment, and we are extremely sensitive to the impact our properties may have on the local communities within which we operate, so every decision we make we think about the impact we are causing. This includes working to protect the wildlife and habitat as well as community projects. Mahali Mzuri received an exceptional 3 star accreditation in its first ever rating and was commending for scoring an impressive 87% in Society, its highest scoring pillar. The SRA recognised the emphasis the team places on improving the quality of life for people within the local community, as well as working to protect local wildlife and habitats.

Across the group we scored highly in sourcing seasonal produce, ethical meat and dairy as well as sustainable fish. Responsible marketing also scored very highly and is a reflection of our commitment to letting our team and guests know about what they are eating and where it has come from. When creating our menus our drive is ‘what’s in season?’, ‘what can we source locally?’ and ‘what is great quality?’ In its idyllic setting in the British Virgin Islands surrounded by beautiful crystal clear waters it is no surprise that Necker Island scored an impressive 100% for its use of ocean sustainable fish. Necker Island sources seasonally available fish from farms with sustainable certifications so guests can be assured of the freshest fish whilst being able to enjoy views of the stunning habitat. Kasbah Tamadot places special emphasis on sourcing local produce, even using local salt, herbs, olive oil and growing their own apples, vegetables and olives. Throughout the summer The Lodge makes the most of the apricots that are in season to make jam which sees them through the winter. The Lodge was this year shortlisted for the International Food Made Good Champion award and a video of their sustainable efforts, as well as their love of cheese, can be viewed here:

It doesn’t just stop at the food Mont Rochelle is in a unique position to be able to serve a wide range of high quality wines from its own vineyard, as well as from nearby vineyards, supporting local businesses and economies. In London, Babylon makes use of freshly grown herbs from The Roof Gardens and uses local suppliers such as Sipsmiths Gin to create delicious cocktails.

Tristin Swales, Virgin Limited Edition Group Operations Director, said: “We are very happy with the results from this year’s Sustainable Restaurant Association Report. Given the unique location, menu and produce available at each of our properties, we are proud of our strong group-wide result.”

Andrew Stephen, Chief Executive of the SRA, said: “Virgin Limited Edition has proved that no matter where in the world a property is situated, it can deliver a sustainable and luxurious experience.”

For further information, please contact:
Charlotte Dollin
[email protected]
Tel: +44 (0)20 8600 0468
Lauren Beaty
[email protected]
Tel: +44 (0)20 8600 0472

Virgin Limited Edition is an award-winning collection of unique retreats, chosen for their beautiful locations and magnificent surroundings each offers a sense of fun, style, luxury and exceptional personal service. The group includes Necker Island in the Caribbean’s British Virgin Islands, Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in South Africa, The Roof Gardens and Babylon Restaurant in London Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco, The Lodge in Verbier, Necker Belle, a 105 foot luxury catamaran, Mahali Mzuri, a tented safari camp in Kenya, Mont Rochelle Hotel and Mountain Vineyard in South Africa, and Son Bunyola Estate in Mallorca.

Keeping it Sustainable on the British Virgin Islands - Recipes

Beach camping is permitted in
very few places.

Camping is forbidden except in designated areas, and the prohibition is strictly enforced. Probably due to its strong sailing tradition, the British Virgin Islands have managed to convince tourists to do their camping on the water, anchored on an expensive charter sailboat, instead of staying in a cheap canvas/nylon shelter on land.

The strict no-camping enforcement helps keep the beaches clean for everyone.

Brewer's Bay Campground offers prepared sites that include a 10'x14' floored tent with beds, linen, stove and all cooking implements. It offers a few open spots for people who bring their own tents. Contact Brewer's Bay Campground, Box 185 , Road Town, Tortola 284/494-3463. Rates are $35 for a prepared site, $10 for a primitive one.

Jost Van Dyke

White Bay Campground overlooks gorgeous White Bay Beach . Tented sites ($35) that accommodate 2 includes bed, electric lamp and ice chest. Primitive, bare sites ($15) face the beach. Call 284/495-9312. Anegada has two campgrounds.

Mac's Place Camping provides showers, toilets, grills and a dining area. Tents are $35 per night and prepared sites are $15-$35. Call 284/495-8020.

Neptune's Treasure overlooks a beach tents are staked under palm trees. Showers are located outside, bathrooms inside the restaurant. Tents with foam mattresses, pillows and linens are $15-$25 per night, or $90-$150 per week. Bare tent sites are $7 per night. Call 284/495-9439.

Necker Island: Sustainability in action

Improving sustainable practices at all our properties is something we are constantly championing across Virgin Limited Edition. With continuous success stories aplenty, we're one of the leading hotel businesses in the world putting sustainability at the heart of all we do - you can read more about our work with the Sustainable Restaurant Association here.

On Necker Island, the chefs have been busy reviewing where they can improve their current practices and develop the island as a role model for sustainability in the BVI. Following their recent SRA report scorecard, the team has identified three areas they are looking to focus their efforts on over the coming year.

One area Necker Island is looking to improve is food supply, sourcing food from local producers and taking advantage of seasonal, regional produce. Building relationships with farmers in the community is really important in order to nurture this aspect. The team are also keen to use a wider variety of regional fruits and vegetables. While people may have heard of popular local foods such as papaya, coconut and watermelon, other less familiar local produce such as granadilla (a fruit with a shiny orange skin and edible jelly-like pulp inside), bequia plums and mamey (a bit like a tropical apricot) are being left off local menus. However this is all set to change.

The team are also educating guests about where the food they are eating has come from. You may spot some friendly signs next to that tasty bowl of fresh fruit at breakfast, or a handy poster about the local farms where the food is sourced. Keeping education and communication channels open is key.

This refers to knowing in detail where all the meat consumed on the island has come from and understanding where all the meat and fish were reared and caught.

The chefs on Necker are carefully choosing which suppliers to work with, looking at businesses that promote high welfare and sustainable practices. This includes meat and fish consumed on the island, as well as produce such as milk and eggs.

The team is also planning to create more sustainable menus and to align themselves more with brands that have been certified for their fair trade credentials. This will not only provide a further guarantee that the food on the menu has come from a sustainable source, but help the local community to build a better future.

Another related aspect is the evolution of staff lunches. The team is striving to provide better vegetarian side options, healthier choices and to have less meat on the meu. Happy healthy tummies equal healthy happy smiles after all!

Sir Richard Branson once said "Sustainability is not an economic pain, but an economic opportunity." The chefs on Necker are committed to making these changes and the results will not only benefit staff and guests, but local farmers, suppliers and ultimately the environment. Keep watching this space to keep up to date with all the latest developments. This really is just the beginning.

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