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Request for Comments: Proposed Rule for a Framework Action to Revise Annual Catch Limits for Spiny Lobster in U.S. Caribbean Federal Waters

January 31, 2024

FB24-006: Caribbean Fishery Bulletin; For More Information, contact: Sarah Stephenson, 727-824-5305, sarah.stephenson@noaa.gov, or Maria Lopez, maria.lopez@noaa.gov

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Key Message:

NOAA Fisheries requests your comments on a proposed rule for a framework action under each of the Puerto Rico, St. Croix, and St. Thomas and St. John Fishery Management Plans to update management reference points, including annual catch limits, for the spiny lobster.  These changes are based on an update to the 2019 spiny lobster population assessments.

Comments are due by March 1, 2024

Summary of Proposed Changes:

  • For 2024 through 2026, the Puerto Rico annual catch limit for spiny lobster would decrease from 366,965 pounds to 357,629 pounds.
  • For 2024 through 2026, the St. Croix annual catch limit for spiny lobster would increase from 120,830 pounds to 137,254 pounds.
  • For 2024 through 2026, the St. Thomas and St. John annual catch limit for spiny lobster would increase from 126,089 pounds to 133,207 pounds.

How To Comment On The Proposed Rule:

The comment period is open now through March 1, 2024.  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: 89 FR 6085, published January 1, 2024

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

  1. Go to: https://www.regulations.gov/document/NOAA_FRDOC_0001-6874

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

3. Enter or attach your comments.

Mail: Submit written comments to Sarah Stephenson/Maria Lopez-Mercer, 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 seeking public comment on a proposed rule to revise the catch limits for spiny lobster in federal waters around Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. John, and St. Croix.
  • The comment period on the proposed rule is open from January 31, 2024, through March 1, 2024.

Why are we doing this proposed action?

  • NOAA Fisheries scientists and managers consistently strive for a better understanding of the resources that we manage.
  • Population assessments for the spiny lobster in Puerto Rico, St. Croix, and St. Thomas/St. John were conducted in 2019 through the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR 57), and management reference points, specifically the overfishing limit and the acceptable biological catch, and the annual catch limits, were revised based on that assessment in 2021 through Framework Amendment 1 to the Puerto Rico, St. Croix, and St. Thomas/St. John Fishery Management Plans.
  • In 2022, at the request of the Caribbean Fishery Management Council, NOAA Fisheries Southeast Fisheries Science Center updated the population assessments based on the best scientific information available, and the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee provided new catch level recommendations for 2024 through 2026. 
  • The Caribbean Fishery Management Council then used those catch recommendations to revise the spiny lobster annual catch limits for 2024-2026 for each of the Puerto Rico, St. Croix, and St. Thomas/St. John Fishery Management Plans.
  • The updated management reference points, including the proposed annual catch limits, are expected to better protect against overfishing of the stock in relation to the current catch limits, and thus ensure, to the best extent practicable, continued access to the resource in future years.

Where can I find more information on Framework Amendment 2?

  • Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office

By Mail: Sarah Stephenson or Maria Lopez-Mercer

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

  • Framework Amendment 2 may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office website.


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

NOAA Fisheries’ Southeast Recreational Fishing Coordinator:  Sean Meehan, 727-385-5202

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on March 01, 2024