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Request for Comments: Proposed Rule on an Amendment to Revise Management Reference Points Including Annual Catch Limits for Spiny Lobster in U.S. Caribbean Federal Waters

December 22, 2022

FB22-080: Caribbean Fishery Bulletin. For more information, contact: Sarah Stephenson, 727-824-5305, sarah.stephenson@noaa.gov

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Key Message:

NOAA Fisheries requests your comments on Framework Amendment 1 to the Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. John, and St. Croix Fishery Management Plans and the proposed rule for implementing regulations.  This amendment and proposed rule would update management reference points used to monitor the health of the population, including annual catch limits, for spiny lobster.  This update is based on scientific information from the recent spiny lobster stock assessments.


The Framework Amendment and proposed rule would also revise the process for comparing landings for spiny lobster to the annual catch limit to determine if an accountability measure needs to be applied in federal waters off of Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. John, or St. Croix.  Accountability measures are management controls that prevent catch limits from being exceeded or correct for overages if they occur.


Comments are due by January 23, 2023


Summary of Proposed Changes:

  • Updates the management reference points to reflect newer scientific information from the spiny lobster stock assessments.
    • For Puerto Rico, revise the annual catch limit for spiny lobster from 527,232 pounds round weight (lb) to 369,313 lb in 2023, and to 366,965 lb in 2024 and later years.
    • For St. Thomas and St. John, revise the annual catch limit for spiny lobster from 209,210 lb to 142,636 lb in 2023, and to 126,089 lb in 2024 and later years.
    • For St. Croix, revise the annual catch limit for spiny lobster from 197,528 lb to 140,667 lb in 2023, and to 120,830 lb in 2024 and later years.


How To Comment On The Proposed Rule:

The comment period is open now through January 23, 2023.  You may submit comments by electronic submission or by postal mail.  Comments sent by any other method (such as e-mail), to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA Fisheries.

Formal Federal Register Name/Number: 87 FR 78625, published December 22, 2022


Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.

1. Go to https://www.regulations.gov/document/NOAA_FRDOC_0001-6447

2. Click the "Comment" icon, complete the required fields.

3. Enter or attach your comments.


Mail: Submit written comments to Sarah Stephenson, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What is NOAA Fisheries announcing today?

  • NOAA Fisheries is announcing a public comment period for Framework Amendment 1 that would revise the spiny lobster catch limits for Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. John, and St. Croix.
  • The comment period on the proposed rule is open from December 22, 2022, through January 23, 2023.


Why are we doing this proposed action?

  • NOAA Fisheries scientists and managers consistently strive for a better understanding of the resources that we manage.
  • For spiny lobster, the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review 57 population assessments for Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. John, and St. Croix provided updated scientific information for the spiny lobster populations.
  • Using this information, the Caribbean Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries propose to update management targets for spiny lobster to assist in the long-term management of the species.
  • The proposed annual catch limits are lower than the catch limits included in the Fishery Management Plans, but they are based on an updated understanding of the health of the population.  In addition, the scientific uncertainty around those catch limits is less. The updated catch limits would better prevent overfishing of the populations.


Where can I find more information on Framework Amendment 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


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, Florida 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 December 22, 2022