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Request for Information: Data for Marine Spatial Studies in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

August 24, 2023

FB23-054: Southeast Fishery Bulletin.
For more information contact: Andrew Richard, (727) 551-5709, nmfs.ser.aquaculture@noaa.gov;
Jennifer Wright, (252) 418-1308, jennifer.wright@noaa.gov

Para español, por favor haga clic aquí


Key Message:

  • NOAA’s National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science in partnership with the National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center and Southeast Regional Office are working to build spatial science capacity in the U.S. Caribbean Region. This helps to ensure an equitable use of shared ocean resources and address environmental considerations early in marine planning initiatives.
  • NOAA has published a Request for Information in the Federal Register seeking public input to identify coastal and marine spatial data or other critical information to inform marine spatial studies and potential coastal and ocean development activities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), such as development of renewable energy facilities, aquaculture, and other blue economy sectors.
  • The public has the opportunity to provide comments and information at two public meetings being held in St. Croix, USVI (August 28 – 29) and in San Juan, Puerto Rico (August 31 - September 1). Written comments may also be submitted electronically via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal through September 30, 2023.

Federal Register Citation: 88 FR 54302, published August 10, 2023.


The purpose of the Request for Information is to promote data development to inform marine spatial studies in Puerto Rico and the USVI, with an emphasis on data needs for offshore wind energy and aquaculture development. In addition to input received from the public through electronic and verbal submissions, NOAA aims to inform the public about its coastal and ocean planning processes and capabilities, discuss the current data available for each ocean sector (e.g., military, fisheries, industry, natural resources), and gather ideas for other data sources. NOAA hopes to come out of the meetings with a strengthened relationship with the public and a list of data gaps and needs to pursue going forward.

NOAA is particularly interested in receiving input concerning the items listed below:

  1. Specific datasets related to ocean sectors, natural resources, and/or human activities you recommend NOAA use in marine spatial studies.
  2. Major concerns you have related to use of any specific datasets that may be used in marine spatial studies.
  3. Major concerns you have related to the impacts of new marine industries on ecological systems in Puerto Rico and/or the USVI.
  4. Major concerns you have related to the impact of new marine industries on other ocean industries in Puerto Rico and/or the USVI.
  5. Major concerns you have related to gaps in scientific knowledge or data that could impact marine spatial study efforts.
  6. Specific data or information you recommend NOAA or other partners collect, if it is not currently available or has not been previously collected.
  7. Ways in which NOAA can better engage and collaborate with the public and Territorial communities to promote economic, social, and ecological resilience as well as protect trust resources.

How to Provide Comments for this Request for Information:

The public comment period is now open and interested persons are invited to provide input in response to the Request for Information through September 30, 2023. Comments may be provided verbally at either of the two meetings or by electronic submission (described below). Comments received after September 30, 2023 will be considered to the extent practicable.

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

  1. Go to https://www.regulations.gov/document/NOAA-NMFS-2023-0097-0001.
  2. Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields.
  3. Enter or attach your comments.

Verbal Comments: NOAA will also be accepting verbal input at two in-person meetings:

  • Meeting #1 - The Buccaneer Resort, St. Croix, USVI.

     Monday, August 28, 2023 - 8:30am to 5:00pm (AST)

     Tuesday, August 29, 2023 - 8:30am to 12:00pm (AST)

  • Meeting #2 - Courtyard Marriott Isla Verde Beach Resort, San Juan, Puerto Rico

     Thursday, August 31, 2023 - 8:30am to 5:00pm (AST)

     Friday, September 1, 2023 from 8:30am to 12:00pm (AST)


Simultaneous language interpretation in English and Spanish will be provided for the meeting held in Puerto Rico.

Advanced registration is requested for the meetings by completing the registration form at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf1B1QOXhd7EJEDflyok-ATW4ZGLHRloJLSzcntmopDjhd86A/viewform?usp=sf link or by providing an RSVP to Erica Rule at erica.rule@noaa.gov. The registration deadline is Monday, August 21, 2023.

Reports of meeting results will also be published and made available to the public in the weeks following the meetings. If you are unable to provide electronic submissions or participate in the meetings, please contact Jennifer Wright at jennifer.wright@noaa.gov or (252) 418-1308 for alternative submission methods.

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, 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 August 24, 2023