What is a Fishery?

The word ‘Fishery’ is used to describe the activities involved catching a species or group of fish or shellfish. Different types of fisheries include:

  • Commercial fisheries, in which fish and shellfish are caught for sale. Commercial fisheries include fishery resources, fishermen, and related businesses. Commercial fisheries can include artisanal fisheries, which are based on traditional or small-scale gear and boats. They can also include industrial fisheries for species not directly used for human food (e.g., Atlantic menhaden used for omega-3 supplements, pet food, and other products).
  • Subsistence fisheries, in which the catch is shared and consumed directly by the families of the fishermen, rather than being sold at the larger market.
  • Recreational fisheries,  in which fishermen catch fish for personal use, pleasure, or competitions, such as tournaments.

Fishery In The U.S. Virgin Islands

In the U.S. Virgin Islands fisheries have always been part of the local community and influences the social economics and culture of the islands and marine environment. Local knowledge about the marine environment is known as LEK (local ecological knowledge),  a form of traditional ecological knowledge that is a community-based accumulation of experiences with the environment and natural resources.

The USVI is a “melting pot” of many cultures and ethnic groups, some of which have different experiences forming local knowledge of fishing and marine life.

  • Local Fisher’s Knowledge (LFK): is information that is tied to the USVI marine environment and its resources, including information related to the economic, social and cultural dimensions of the local fishery.
  • Fisher’s Ecological Knowledge (FEK): is a term that defines knowledge generated through direct experience and observation of the marine environment transmitted from generation to generation with implications for determining the nature, timing, and location of their fishing.

The U.S.V.I. has experienced social and cultural changes over the years, which include a shift from a fishery-based economy to a tourism-driven economy.  Many fishers do contribute to the tourism industry by supplying their catches to local hotels and restaurants.

Local fisheries need to be sustainable for future generations to ensure fishery populations does not over time because of fishing practices. Conserving and managing marine fishery resources can maintain healthy fish stocks important to commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries. The goal is to increase long-term economic and social benefits to the nation from living marine resources.

Fishing in the U.S. Virgin Islands is regulated at both the territorial and federal level. Regulations include fishing licenses, protected areas where fishing is limited or not allowed, prohibited species, size restrictions, catch restrictions and other rules that seek to manage fisheries and protect their sustainability. For more information on reef fish communities and their link to USVI ecology, heritage and culture, please visit  the following links:

Don’t Stop Talking Fish: Our Fisheries…Our Heritage…Our Culture……..Fish For the Future

Caribbean Fishery Management Council

NOAA Fisheries: Southeast