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Seasonal Prohibition on Fishing (Commercial and Recreational) for or Possession of Caribbean Council-Managed Reef Fish in Federal Waters of the Bajo de Sico Management Area

September 25, 2023

FB23-067: Caribbean Fishery Bulletin. For more information, contact: Sarah Stephenson, 727-824-5305, sarah.stephenson@noaa.gov

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What Is Happening and When:

NOAA Fisheries reminds fishermen and the public of the annually recurring seasonal prohibition on fishing for or possession of any reef fish1 managed by the Caribbean Fishery Management Council (Council) in or from those parts of the Bajo de Sico management area that are in federal waters.

  • This closure begins at 12:01 a.m., local time, on October 1, 2023, and extends through 11:59 p.m., local time, March 31, 2024.
  • These regulations only apply in the federal portion of the Bajo de Sico management area located off the west coast of Puerto Rico (Figure 1), which is bisected by the nine nautical mile boundary between Puerto Rico Commonwealth and federal waters.


Why This Closure Is Happening:

This seasonal closure protects species when they are spawning (reproducing) and therefore more vulnerable to fishing pressure.  Bajo de Sico is a known spawning aggregation area for reef fish.


During The Closure:

  • Fishing and possession prohibitions apply to Council-managed reef fish in or from those parts of the Bajo de Sico management area that are in federal waters.
  • Fishermen are allowed to harvest spiny lobster and species not managed by the Council, including highly migratory species (HMS)2 or other non-HMS coastal migratory species.
  • Fishing with pots, traps, bottom longlines, gillnets, or trammel nets and anchoring are prohibited year-round in Bajo de Sico federal waters and remain prohibited during the seasonal closure.

The Bajo de Sico management area is located off the west coast of Puerto Rico and bounded by the following coordinates:

A          18° 15.7' N       67° 26.4' W

B          18° 15.7' N       67° 23.2' W

C          18° 12.7' N       67° 23.2' W

D          18° 12.7' N       67° 26.4' W


Location of the Bajo de Sico management area off western Puerto Rico

Figure 1.  Map showing the Bajo de Sico management area (shaded) off the west coast of Puerto Rico.


1 For a complete list of Council-managed reef fish, please see Table 3 to Part 622.431.

2 For a complete list of highly migratory species, please see Appendix A to Part 635.

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

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




Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on September 25, 2023