Fishing Regulations



Anglers in the U.S. Virgin Islands: Have you read through the U.S. Virgin Islands Commercial and Recreational Fishers’ Information Handbook yet? The handbook provides a summary of fishing regulations in local (Territorial) and federal waters around the USVI. Included are species-specific regulations, closed seasons and managed marine areas, general policies, and other educational information.

DFW Fisher Handbook 2019  ** Coming soon: the DFW Fisher Handbook 2022!


Fishing regulations are subject to change. It is your responsibility to become familiar with the latest territorial and federal regulatory updates and to comply with the current official regulations.

USVI Territorial Waters (0 – 3 nm from shore)

USVI territorial waters extend from land to 3 nautical miles offshore and are managed by the USVI Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Official fishing regulations for USVI territorial waters are presented in the Virgin Islands Code ( hottopics/vicode/). For additional and updated regulations concerning USVI territorial waters, contact the USVI Division of Environmental Enforcement at 340-774-3320 (St. Thomas/St. John) or 340-773-5774 (St. Croix).

Federal Waters (3 – 200 nm from shore)

Federal waters around the USVI are those from 3 nautical miles to 200 nautical miles offshore. Regulations pertaining to federal waters are presented in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations ( For current and specific regulations for fishing in federal waters, fishers should contact the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) Southeast Regional Office at 727-824-5305 or consult official sources of information, such as the Federal Register. Fishers with questions about Atlantic Highly Migratory Species should call the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Management Division at 727-824-5399 (Spanish or English) or 301-427-8503 (English only).

Fishing Registration

Annual fishing registration occurs formally in July. For more information or make an appointment for late registration, contact the Division of Fish and Wildlife in St. Thomas at 340-775-6762 and in St. Croix at 340-773-1082.

All those who wish to obtain a new commercial fishing permit for the 2022 registration year must submit the appropriate forms and materials as required by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources: Commercial Fisher Application & Assessment

Information on policies related to the moratorium: Commercial Fisher Briefing

The Fisheries Advisory Committees support the Department by providing advice and recommendations from across the fishing industry. The FAC were formed under Virgin Islands Code Title 11 Chapter 27 Section 1404:

“There shall be two Fisheries Advisory Committees, one for St. Croix and one for St. Thomas-St. John, each to be composed of not more than 14 members appointed by the Commissioner of Conservation and Cultural Affairs. Each Committee shall include one representative each from the Department of Conservation and Cultural Affairs and Law; a marine scientist associated with an educational or scientific institution with facilities in the United States Virgin Islands; and six other members residing within the respective Committee’s jurisdiction, representing a commercial fishermen’s association, a sport fishing association and a diving association. Each committee shall collaborate with the Department of Conservation and Cultural Affairs in the drafting and administration of rules and regulations for the promotion and conservation of the fishery resources of the United States Virgin Islands under the provisions of this chapter and chapter 9A of Title 12 of the Code. The appointment of each member of each Committee shall be for the term of one year and until his successor is appointed. The appointing Commissioners shall designate the chairman of each Committee.”

Feedback from the Fisheries Advisory Committees is recorded electronically. Links are below:

Date District Recording Link Key Topics
October 7, 2020 St. Croix


109 minutes


Measures to be implemented prior to the ending of the moratorium on commercial fishing licenses
January 13, 2021 St. Croix

131 minutes

Presentation by Allie Durdall on “Great Pond, a critical marine fish nursery habitat in St. Croix: reassessment after two decades of mangrove gain and loss, invasive species, hurricanes, and drought impacts”



February 10, 2021 St. Croix

114 minutes

Key definitions for commercial fishing
March 10, 2021 St. Croix

215 minutes

Voting on key definitions for commercial fishing
March 11, 2021 St. Thomas / St. John

108 minutes

Key definitions for commercial fishing
March 25, 2021 St. Thomas / St. John

175 minutes

Voting on key definitions for commercial fishing.
April 8, 2021 St. Thomas / St. John

94 minutes

Recreational fishing regulations; CARES Act
April 14, 2021 St. Croix

126 minutes

Recreational fishing regulations CARES Act; FAC subcommittee
May 13, 2021 St. Thomas / St. John

64 minutes

Fisheries data collection
June 9, 2021 St. Croix

112 minutes

Reef responsible; subcommittees
June 10, 2021 St. Thomas / St. John

94 minutes

Reef responsible
July 21, 2021 St. Thomas / St. John

65 minutes

Recreational fishing regulations
August 25, 2021 St. Thomas / St. John

130 minutes

Priority items
September 8, 2021 St. Croix

108 minutes

Compatible regulations
September 9, 2021 St. Thomas / St. John

97 minutes

Compatible regulations
September 16, 2021 St. Thomas / St. John

136 minutes

Compatible regulations