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Final Rule to Modify Annual Catch Limits for Spiny Lobster in U.S. Caribbean Federal Waters

March 16, 2023

FB23-016: Caribbean Fishery Bulletin. For more information, contact: Sarah Stephenson, 727-824-5305, sarah.stephenson@noaa.gov

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Key Message:

NOAA Fisheries announces the implementation of the final rule for Framework Amendments 1 to the Puerto Rico Fishery Management Plan, the St. Croix Fishery Management Plan, and the St. Thomas and St. John Fishery Management Plan (Framework Amendments 1).  This rule modifies management reference points for spiny lobster in federal waters, including annual catch limits, based on population assessments conducted for each island group that were completed in 2019.  The rule also and updates the process for evaluating annual landings relative to the annual catch limit.


When Rule Will Take Effect:

Regulations become effective April 15, 2023.


What This Means:

  • The final rule will modify management reference points to reflect newer scientific information available from the spiny lobster stock assessments.  The rule will:
    • Modify the annual catch limit for spiny lobster in federal waters around Puerto Rico to 369,313 pounds whole weight (lbs) in 2023 and 366,965 lbs in 2024 and later years.
    • Modify the annual catch limit for spiny lobster in federal waters around St. Croix to 140,667 lbs in 2023 and 120,830 lbs in 2024 and later years.
    • Modify the annual catch limit for spiny lobster in federal waters around St. Thomas and St. John to 142,636 lbs in 2023 and 126,089 lbs in 2024 and later years.
  • The final rule also revises the process for evaluating annual landings relative to the catch limit to determine if an accountability measure needs to be applied in federal waters.  Accountability measures are management controls used to prevent annual catch limits from being exceeded and to correct or mitigate overages if they occur.
    • The rule will revise the years of landings information used in comparison to the annual catch limit from a moving multi-year approach to an approach that compares the average of the most recent three years of spiny lobster landings to the average of the annual catch limits in effect during those same fishing years.  The Caribbean Fishery Management Council determined this approach would better anticipate changes to the spiny lobster annual catch limits moving forward, following future population assessments for spiny lobster.


Formal Federal Register Name/Number:  88 FR 16194, published March 16, 2023.


Frequently Asked Questions


Why are the catch limits being revised?

  • The 2019 Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review population assessments for spiny lobster in Puerto Rico, St. Croix, and St. Thomas and St. John provided updated scientific information for the spiny lobster populations.  The population assessment process uses current data and advanced analytical techniques in an effort to provide the best scientific information available for conservation and management decisions.
  • Using the information provided by the spiny lobster population assessments, the Caribbean Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries will update management targets for spiny lobster to assist in the long-term management of the species.
  • The updated annual catch limits are lower than currently specified, but they are based on an updated understanding of the health of the population.


Where can I find more information on Framework Amendments 1?

  • Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office

     By Mail: Sarah Stephenson

     NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office

     Sustainable Fisheries Division

     263 13th Avenue South

     St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505

     By FAX: (727) 824-5308

     By Phone: (727) 824-5305

Sign Up For Text Message Alerts - Find Out About Immediate Openings and Closures

NOAA's Text Message Alert Program allows you to receive important fishery-related alerts via text message (SMS).  Standard message & data rates may apply.  You may opt-out at any time.

Text alerts you may receive include:

  • Immediate fishery openings and closures
  • Any significant changes to fishing regulations that happen quickly


Sign up for one or more of the following groups:

  • Gulf of Mexico Recreational Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text GULFRECFISH to 888777
  • Gulf of Mexico Commercial Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text GULFCOMMFISH to 888777
  • South Atlantic Recreational Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text SATLRECFISH to 888777
  • South Atlantic Commercial Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text SATLCOMMFISH to 888777
  • Caribbean Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text CARIBFISH to 888777


Quick Glance Contact List for the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office.

Permits Mailbox:  The Permits Office in St. Petersburg, Florida now has a Permits mailbox in the front lobby (263 13th Ave. South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701).  You can now drop off original permits for permit transfers.  Envelopes with information labels will be provided so that your documents can be attached to the correct application.  The mailbox will be checked daily.  For more information contact the Permits Office at 877-376-4877.

Other contacts:

Media:  Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on March 16, 2023