The Caribbean Branch works with the Caribbean Fishery Management Council (Caribbean Council) to manage fisheries in federal waters of the U.S. Caribbean. The U.S. Caribbean includes the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Commonwealth includes the main island of Puerto Rico and several smaller islands, such as Mona, Culebra, and Vieques. The U.S. Virgin Islands includes the main islands of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, along with many other surrounding minor islands.
The Caribbean Council develops management measures for key marine species through Fishery Management Plans and amendments. The Caribbean Branch puts in place the resulting regulations. Caribbean Branch staff provide guidance to the Caribbean Council and the general public on fisheries management; assess environmental impacts of proposed management measures; educate the public on fishery management issues; coordinate public review and comments during regulations development; and issue fishing closures to prevent overfishing.
Fishery Management Plans
In October 2022, the Puerto Rico Fishery Management Plan, the St. Thomas and St. John Fishery Management Plan, and the St. Croix Fishery Management Plan replaced the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan, the Spiny Lobster Fishery Management Plan, the Corals and Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates Fishery Management Plan, and the Queen Conch Fishery Management Plan for management of federal fisheries in the U.S. Caribbean region.