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Monday, August 15, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesNOAA Seeks to Further Limit Queen Conch Fishing

NOAA Seeks to Further Limit Queen Conch Fishing

While the seasonal closure for fishing Caribbean queen conch in federal waters east of St. Croix currently runs July 1 to Sept. 30, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wants to extend that closure by two months to make it compatible with the territorial closure in its waters, according to a NOAA statement.

The territory closes queen conch fishing from June 1 to Oct. 31. The closures are meant to remedy overfishing of conch in local waters.

The public has until Feb. 22 to comment on the proposed closure. Additionally, the extra two months will improve enforcement of regulations affecting queen conch by improving compatibility among federal and territorial regulations.

The conch is an important resource for the territory, Bill Arnold, a fisheries biologist at NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, said Friday.

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“They make a great meal but are an important component of the ecosystem,” Arnold said.

He said that he does not expect any controversy to develop over the proposed closure extension.

The proposed closure covers the covers the Caribbean Exclusive Economic Zone east of 64 degrees north latitude and 34 degrees west longitude. It includes an area known as the Lang Bank located east of St. Croix.

NOAA doesn’t know whether this proposed rule, if adopted, would have any direct adverse economic effect on the territory’s commercial fishermen. Available harvest data do not distinguish between queen conch harvested from territorial waters and from the federal waters of Lang Bank, so the amount of queen conch taken from federal waters remains undetermined.

According to NOAA, in 2008, there were 383 fishermen with permits across the territory. There were 223 in St. Croix and 160 in St. Thomas and St. John. The conch caught by the fishermen was valued in 2008 at approximately $8.8 million, or approximately $23,000 per fisherman.

For more information, visit the Federal Register website.

To comment, go to regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Mail comments to Britni Tokotch, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

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