Seasonal and Area Fishing Closures - U.S. Caribbean

Fishing years, seasonal closures, and fishery status for federally managed Caribbean species. NOTE: All official regulations for fishing in U.S. Caribbean federal waters are found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 622.

NOAA’s Sustainable Fisheries Division Caribbean Branch, together with the Caribbean Fishery Management Council, manages fisheries in federal waters of the U.S. Caribbean Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Federal waters begin where Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Island jurisdictional waters end and extend 200 miles into the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. 

This summary is intended to provide appropriate information to fishers about regulations and the sustainable use of marine fishery resources in the U.S. Caribbean. This summary is for general information purposes. Fishery Regulations are subject to changes. For more information on fishery regulations consult the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 50 CFR 622.

 

Species

EEZ Seasonal Closure

Red Grouper February 1 - April 30
Black Grouper February 1 - April 30
Tiger Grouper February 1 - April 30
Yellowfin Grouper February 1 - April 30
Yellowedge Grouper February 1 - April 30
Mutton Snapper April 1 - June 30
Lane Snapper April 1 - June 30
Black Snapper October 1 - December 31
Blackfin Snapper October 1 - December 31
Vermilion Snapper October 1 - December 31
Silk Snapper October 1 - December 31
Red Hind December 1 - Last Day of February
Queen Conch June 1 - October 31

 

(a) Fishing for or possession of queen conch in the EEZ is PROHIBITED in the U.S. Caribbean, with the exception of Lang Bank, St. Croix, USVI (east of 64°34’W) during the open season (November 1 - May 31)

 

Area(a) Seasonal Closure
Mutton snapper spawning aggregation area March 1 - June 30
Lang Bank Red Hind Spawning Aggregation Area December 1 - February 28
Tourmaline Bank December 1 - February 28
Abrir La Sierra December 1 - February 28
Grammanik Bank (b) February 1 - April 30
Bajo de Sico (c) October 1 - March 31

 

(a) For coordinates of each closed area, please see the Caribbean Closed Areas Coordinates.

(b) From February 1 through April 30, each year, no person may fish for or possess any species of fish, except highly migratory species, in or from the Grammanik Bank closed area.  For the purpose of paragraph (a)(4) of this section, “fish” means finfish, mollusks, crustaceans, and all other forms of marine animal and plant life other than marine mammals and birds. “Highly migratory species” means bluefin, bigeye, yellowfin, albacore, and skipjack tunas; swordfish; sharks; and white marlin, blue marlin, sailfish, and longbill spearfish.

(c) From October 1 through March 31, each year, no person may fish for or possess any Caribbean reef fish, as listed in
Table 2 of Appendix A to part 622, in or from those parts of the Bajo de Sico closed area that are in the EEZ.

 

Seasonal Closures

Seasonal closures applicable to specific species 

  • Red, black, tiger, yellowfin, or yellowedge grouper. From February 1 through April 30, each year, no person may fish for or possess red, black, tiger, yellowfin, or yellowedge grouper in or from the Caribbean EEZ. This prohibition on possession does not apply to such grouper harvested and landed ashore prior to the closure.
  • Red hind. From December 1 through the last day of February, each year, no person may fish for or possess red hind in or from the Caribbean EEZ west of 67°10′ W. longitude. This prohibition on possession does not apply to red hind harvested and landed ashore prior to the closure.
  • Vermilion, black, silk, or blackfin snapper. From October 1 through December 31, each year, no person may fish for or possess vermilion, black, silk, or blackfin snapper in or from the Caribbean EEZ. This prohibition on possession does not apply to such snapper harvested and landed ashore prior to the closure.
  • Lane or mutton snapper. From April 1 through June 30, each year, no person may fish for or possess lane or mutton snapper in or from the Caribbean EEZ. This prohibition on possession does not apply to such snapper harvested and landed ashore prior to the closure.

Seasonal closures applicable to specific areas

  • Mutton snapper spawning aggregation area, south of St. Croix, USVI. From March 1 through June 30, each year, fishing is prohibited in that part of the following area that is in the EEZ.
  • Red hind spawning aggregation areas. From December 1 through February 28, each year, fishing is prohibited in those parts of the following areas that are in the EEZ.
    • Lang Bank, east of St. Croix, USVI.
    • Tourmaline Bank, west of Puerto Rico
    • Abrir La Sierra Bank, west of Puerto Rico
  • Grammanik Bank closed area, south of St. Thomas, USVI. From February 1 through April 30, each year, no person may fish for or possess any species of fish, except highly migratory species, in or from the closed area. 
  • Bajo de Sico closed area, west of Puerto Rico. From October 1 through March 31, each year, no person may fish for or possess any Caribbean reef fish, as listed in Table 2 of Appendix A to part 622, in or from those parts of the closed area that are in the EEZ.

Year-round Closures

  • Fishing for any species and anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited within the Hind Bank Marine Conservation District, south of St. Thomas, USVI.
  • Fishing with pots, traps, bottom longlines, gillnets or trammel nets is prohibited year-round in the Mutton snapper spawning aggregation areaRed hind spawning aggregation areas, Grammanik Bank closed area, and Bajo de Sico closed area.
  • Anchoring is prohibited year-round in those parts of the Bajo de Sico closed area that are in the EEZ.

 

Please Note: This summary is intended to provide appropriate information to fishers about regulations and the sustainable use of marine fishery resources in the U.S. Caribbean. This summary is for general information purposes. Fishery Regulations are subject to changes. For more information on fishery regulations consult the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 50 CFR 622 or the NOAA Fisheries Service Southeast Regional Office Fishery Regulation website. Any discrepancies between this information and the regulations as published in the Federal Register will be resolved in favor of the Federal Register.

 

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on June 18, 2019