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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of January 23, 2020

Title 50Chapter VIPart 622 → Subpart S


Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC


Subpart S—Reef Fish Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands


Contents
§622.430   Gear identification.
§622.431   Trap construction specifications and tending restrictions.
§622.432   Anchoring restriction.
§622.433   Prohibited gear and methods.
§622.434   Prohibited species.
§622.435   Seasonal and area closures.
§622.436   Size limits.
§622.437   Bag limits.
§622.438   Restrictions on sale/purchase.
§622.439   Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs).
§622.440   Adjustment of management measures.

§622.430   Gear identification.

(a) Fish traps and associated buoys. A fish trap used or possessed in the Caribbean EEZ must display the official number specified for the vessel by Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands so as to be easily identified. Traps used in the Caribbean reef fish fishery that are fished individually, rather than tied together in a trap line, must have at least one buoy attached that floats on the surface. Traps used in the Caribbean reef fish fishery that are tied together in a trap line must have at least one buoy that floats at the surface attached at each end of the trap line. Each buoy must display the official number and color code assigned to the vessel by Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, whichever is applicable, so as to be easily distinguished, located, and identified.

(b) Presumption of ownership of fish traps. A fish trap in the EEZ will be presumed to be the property of the most recently documented owner. This presumption will not apply with respect to such traps that are lost or sold if the owner reports the loss or sale within 15 days to the RA.

(c) Disposition of unmarked fish traps or buoys. An unmarked fish trap or a buoy deployed in the EEZ where such trap or buoy is required to be marked is illegal and may be disposed of in any appropriate manner by the Assistant Administrator or an authorized officer.

§622.431   Trap construction specifications and tending restrictions.

(a) Construction specifications—(1) Minimum mesh size. A bare-wire fish trap used or possessed in the EEZ that has hexagonal mesh openings must have a minimum mesh size of 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in the smallest dimension measured between centers of opposite strands. A bare-wire fish trap used or possessed in the EEZ that has other than hexagonal mesh openings or a fish trap of other than bare wire, such as coated wire or plastic, used or possessed in the EEZ, must have a minimum mesh size of 2.0 inches (5.1 cm) in the smallest dimension measured between centers of opposite strands.

(2) Escape mechanisms. A fish trap used or possessed in the Caribbean EEZ must have a panel located on one side of the trap, excluding the top, bottom, and side containing the trap entrance. The opening covered by the panel must measure not less than 8 by 8 inches (20.3 by 20.3 cm). The mesh size of the panel may not be smaller than the mesh size of the trap. The panel must be attached to the trap with untreated jute twine with a diameter not exceeding 18 inch (3.2 mm). An access door may serve as the panel, provided it is on an appropriate side, it is hinged only at its bottom, its only other fastening is untreated jute twine with a diameter not exceeding 18 inch (3.2 mm), and such fastening is at the top of the door so that the door will fall open when such twine degrades. Jute twine used to secure a panel may not be wrapped or overlapped.

(b) Tending restrictions. A fish trap in the Caribbean EEZ may be pulled or tended only by a person (other than an authorized officer) aboard the fish trap owner's vessel, or aboard another vessel if such vessel has on board written consent of the trap owner, or if the trap owner is aboard and has documentation verifying his identification number and color code. An owner's written consent must specify the time period such consent is effective and the trap owner's gear identification number and color code.

§622.432   Anchoring restriction.

(a) The owner or operator of any fishing vessel, recreational or commercial, that fishes for or possesses Caribbean reef fish in or from the Caribbean EEZ must ensure that the vessel uses only an anchor retrieval system that recovers the anchor by its crown, thereby preventing the anchor from dragging along the bottom during recovery. For a grapnel hook, this could include an incorporated anchor rode reversal bar that runs parallel along the shank, which allows the rode to reverse and slip back toward the crown. For a fluke- or plow-type anchor, a trip line consisting of a line from the crown of the anchor to a surface buoy would be required.

(b) [Reserved]

§622.433   Prohibited gear and methods.

Also see §622.9 for additional prohibited gear and methods that apply more broadly to multiple fisheries or in some cases all fisheries.

(a) Poisons. A poison, drug, or other chemical may not be used to fish for Caribbean reef fish in the Caribbean EEZ.

(b) Powerheads. A powerhead may not be used in the Caribbean EEZ to harvest Caribbean reef fish. The possession of a mutilated Caribbean reef fish in or from the Caribbean EEZ and a powerhead is prima facie evidence that such fish was harvested by a powerhead.

(c) Gillnets and trammel nets in the Caribbean EEZ. A gillnet or trammel net may not be used in the Caribbean EEZ to fish for Caribbean reef fish. Possession of a gillnet or trammel net and any Caribbean reef fish in or from the Caribbean EEZ is prima facie evidence of violation of this paragraph (c). A gillnet or trammel net used in the Caribbean EEZ to fish for any other species must be tended at all times.

§622.434   Prohibited species.

(a) General. The harvest and possession restrictions of this section apply without regard to whether the species is harvested by a vessel operating under a commercial vessel permit. The operator of a vessel that fishes in the EEZ is responsible for the limit applicable to that vessel.

(b) No person may fish for or possess goliath grouper and Nassau grouper in or from the Caribbean EEZ. Such fish caught in the Caribbean EEZ must be released immediately with a minimum of harm.

(c) No person may fish for or possess midnight parrotfish, blue parrotfish, or rainbow parrotfish in or from the Caribbean EEZ. Such fish caught in the Caribbean EEZ must be released with a minimum of harm.

§622.435   Seasonal and area closures.

(a) Seasonal closures—(1) Seasonal closures applicable to specific species only—(i) Red, black, tiger, yellowfin, or yellowedge grouper closure. 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.

(ii) Red hind closure. 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.

(iii) Vermilion, black, silk, or blackfin snapper closure. 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.

(iv) Lane or mutton snapper closure. 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.

(2) Seasonal closures applicable to broad categories of fish or to all fishing—(i) Mutton snapper spawning aggregation area. From March 1 through June 30, each year, fishing is prohibited in that part of the following area that is in the EEZ. The area is bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the points listed.

PointNorth lat.West long.
A17°37.864°53.0
B17°39.064°53.0
C17°39.064°50.5
D17°38.164°50.5
E17°37.864°52.5
A17°37.864°53.0

(ii) 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. Each area is bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the points listed.

(A) East of St. Croix.

PointNorth lat.West long.
A17°50.264°27.9
B17°50.164°26.1
C17°49.264°25.8
D17°48.664°25.8
E17°48.164°26.1
F17°47.564°26.9
A17°50.264°27.9

(B) West of Puerto Rico—(1) [Reserved]

(2) Tourmaline Bank.

PointNorth lat.West long.
A18°11.267°22.4
B18°11.267°19.2
C18°08.267°19.2
D18°08.267°22.4
A18°11.267°22.4

(3) Abrir La Sierra Bank.

PointNorth lat.West long.
A18°06.567°26.9
B18°06.567°23.9
C18°03.567°23.9
D18°03.567°26.9
A18°06.567°26.9

(iii) Grammanik Bank closed area. (A) The Grammanik Bank closed area is bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points:

PointNorth lat.West long.
A18°11.89864°56.328
B18°11.64564°56.225
C18°11.05864°57.810
D18°11.31164°57.913
A18°11.89864°56.328

(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. This prohibition on possession does not apply to such fish harvested and landed ashore prior to the closure. For the purpose of this paragraph, “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 (listed in Appendix A to part 635 of this title); and white marlin, blue marlin, sailfish, and longbill spearfish.

(iv) Bajo de Sico closed area. (A) The Bajo de Sico closed area is bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order the following points:

Point ANorth lat.West long.
A18°15.767°26.4
B18°15.767°23.2
C18°12.767°23.2
D18°12.767°26.4
A18°15.767°26.4

(B) 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. The prohibition on possession does not apply to such Caribbean reef fish harvested and landed ashore prior to the closure.

(b) Year-round closures—(1) Hind Bank Marine Conservation District (MCD). The following activities are prohibited within the Hind Bank MCD: Fishing for any species and anchoring by fishing vessels. The Hind Bank MCD is bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the points listed.

PointNorth lat.West long.
A18°13.265°06.0
B18°13.264°59.0
C18°11.864°59.0
D18°10.765°06.0
A18°13.265°06.0

(2) Areas closed year-round to certain fishing gear. Fishing with pots, traps, bottom longlines, gillnets or trammel nets is prohibited year-round in the closed areas specified in paragraphs (a)(2)(i), (ii), (iii), and (iv) of this section.

(3) Anchoring prohibition year-round in Bajo de Sico. Anchoring, by fishing vessels, is prohibited year-round in those parts of the Bajo de Sico closed area, described in paragraph (a)(2)(iv) of this section, that are in the EEZ.

§622.436   Size limits.

All size limits in this section are minimum size limits unless specified otherwise. A fish not in compliance with its size limit, as specified in this section, in or from the Caribbean EEZ, may not be possessed, sold, or purchased. A fish not in compliance with its size limit must be released immediately with a minimum of harm. The operator of a vessel that fishes in the EEZ is responsible for ensuring that fish on board are in compliance with the size limits specified in this section. See §622.10 regarding requirements for landing fish intact.

(a) Yellowtail snapper. The minimum size limit for yellowtail snapper is 12 inches (30.5 cm), TL.

(b) Parrotfishes. The minimum size limit for parrotfishes, except for redband parrotfish, in the St. Croix Management Area only (as defined in table 2 of appendix E to part 622) is 9 inches (22.9 cm), fork length. See §622.434(c) for the current prohibition on the harvest and possession of midnight parrotfish, blue parrotfish, or rainbow parrotfish.

(c) Redband parrotfish. The minimum size limit for red band parrotfish in the St. Croix Management Area only (as defined in table 2 of appendix E to part 622) is 8 inches (20.3 cm), fork length.

[78 FR 22952, Apr. 17, 2013, as amended at 78 FR 45896, July 30, 2013]

§622.437   Bag limits.

(a) Applicability. Section 622.11(a) provides the general applicability for bag and possession limits. However, §622.11(a)(1) notwithstanding, the bag limits of paragraph (b) of this section do not apply to a person who has a valid commercial fishing license issued by Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

(b) Bag limits. (1) Groupers, snappers, and parrotfishes combined—5 per person per day or, if 3 or more persons are aboard, 15 per vessel per day; but not to exceed 2 parrotfish per person per day or 6 parrotfish per vessel per day.

(2) Other reef fish species combined—5 per person per day or, if 3 or more persons are aboard, 15 per vessel per day, but not to exceed 1 surgeonfish per person per day or 4 surgeonfish per vessel per day.

§622.438   Restrictions on sale/purchase.

(a) Live red hind or live mutton snapper. A live red hind or live mutton snapper in or from the Caribbean EEZ may not be sold or purchased and used in the marine aquarium trade.

(b) [Reserved]

§622.439   Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs).

See §622.12 for applicable ACLs and AMs.

§622.440   Adjustment of management measures.

In accordance with the framework procedure of the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the RA may establish or modify the following items:

(a) Fishery management units (FMUs), quotas, trip limits, bag limits, size limits, closed seasons or areas, gear restrictions, fishing years, MSY, OY, TAC, maximum fishing mortality threshold (MFMT), minimum stock size threshold (MSST), overfishing limit (OFL), acceptable biological catch (ABC) control rules, ACLs, AMs, ACTs, and actions to minimize the interaction of fishing gear with endangered species or marine mammals.

(b) [Reserved]

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