The waters around St. John are regulated by different agencies. There are National Park and Coral Reef Monument restrictions, territorial requirements and federal regulations. Please follow the rules and be kind to the environment.
At present, general recreational fishing permits are not needed for recreational fishers in the US Virgin Islands (e.g., fishing for personal food, catch and release). However, there are three exceptions (see below). The sale of fish caught by recreational fishers is not allowed. Recreational fishers cannot use pots, traps, set-nets and haul seines.
The BVI and Puerto Rico have their own laws and regulations regarding fishing, please be advised.
Permits ARE required to harvest shrimp in select areas of St. Croix, collect baitfish with a cast net near St. James Reserve, and collect baitfish with a cast net in the Mangrove Lagoon Marine Reserves off St. Thomas. Permits are available for purchase at the Division of Environmental Enforcement.
Territorial Waters extend from shore to 3 miles offshore, where Federal Waters take over up to 200 nautical miles offshore. Federal fishing permits are required to fish Atlantic Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Sailfish, Yellowfin Tuna and Skipjack Tuna.
Fishing in National Park
Fishing with a rod and reel, handline, traps and baitfish or nets is allowed in some areas of the Virgin Islands National Park waters. The use and possession of spearfishing equipment within the park is prohibited. Fishing is NOT allowed in designated swim areas, and not allowed at all in Trunk Bay and Jumbie Bay on St. John.
For the latest on fishing regulations within the US Virgin Islands National Park, contact the NPS office on St. John at (340) 776-6201 x 254.
Commercial fishers are required to have a commercial fishing permit. For questions regarding territorial regulations, contact the DPNR, Division of Environmental Enforcement in St. Thomas (340) 774-3320 ext. 5106. For the most recent regulations for fishing in Federal waters, contact NOAA Fisheries Service at 727-824-5326.
Queen conch is one of the largest molluscs native to the Caribbean sea and tropical Atlantic. Queen conch are also called pink conch. Throughout the Caribbean, local names for queen conch include: caracol rosa, botuto, guarura, and carrucho.
- Season open Oct 1 – June 30
- Season closed July 1 – Sept. 30
Read more about conchs and fishing for conch on St. John here.
- Fish by hand or handheld spear only
- Minimum size 3.5 inch carapace.
- Limit two per person per day
- No harvest of females with eggs.
- No spearfishing, hooks or gigs or use of chemicals.
West Indian welks are edible sea snails and their shells have distinct black and white markings. Known locally as wilks, they’re also called bulgao, caracoles, quigua, and cigua in various parts of the Caribbean and Latin America.
West Indian welks can be found throughout the Caribbean in shallow sea waters near shore. They are an important part of the economy, along with the spiny lobster and queen conch.
- Welk season open: October 1-March 31
- Welk season closed: April 1-September 30
Read more about welks and fishing for welks on St. John here.