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Can you eat the Sea Urchins in the Virgin Islands?  

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Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 12275
July 1, 2013 2:48 pm  

There are seasons and size limits on conch, whelks, etc.
There is no spearfishing for lobster and you cannot take females with eggs.
Ciguatera can be deadly, especially if infected more than once.

Southside reef fish have the reputation of being more tainted.

See these links for info on fishing regs for limits, sizes and season:

and []

1 Whelk:
Size Limit:
Landing Restriction:
Closed Season :
V.I.C., Title 12, Chapter 9A, §316-6 & 316-7.
Minimum size of shell must be greater than 2 7/16 inches in
Must be landed whole in the shell (see Appendix 1 page 24).
April 1-September 30.
2 Conch:
Size Limit:
Harvest Quota:
Landing Restriction:
Sale Restriction:
Closed Season:
V.I.C., Title 12, Chapter 9A, §316-1 & 316-4.
Minimum size of 9 inch shell length from the spire to the distal end,
or 3/8 inch lip thickness (see Appendix 1 page 24).
No harvest of undersized conch.
150 conch per day per permitted commercial fisher.
6 conch per day per recreational (personal use) fisher; not to
exceed 24 per boat per day.
Must be landed alive and whole in the shell at final landing site.
No disposal of shell at sea before landing. Taking conch to offshore
cays and islands for purpose of removing from shell is prohibited.
Transport of conch meat out of shell over open water is prohibited.
No sale of undersized conch shell or meat from undersized conch.
No sale of imported conch meat unless shipment is accompanied by a
CITES export permit and shipment is cleared at the Port of Miami.
(see Conch Imports, page 8 for exceptions and further information).
July 1 - September 30.

3 Spiny Lobster:
Size Limit:
Landing Restriction:
Gear Restrictions:
V.I.C., Title 12, Chapter 9A, §319.
3 ½ inch carapace length (see Appendix 1 page 24).
Must be landed whole.
No harvest of females with eggs.
No spearfishing, hooks, gigs or use of chemicals.

4 Shrimp:
Commissioner Prescribed Rule, V.I.C., Title 12, Chapter 9A, §303(1)
No commercial harvest in Altona Lagoon and Great Pond.
No sale.
Recreational permit is required (see page 1).
5 Goliath Grouper
Commissioner Prescribed Rule, V.I.C., Title 12, Chapter 2, §104
Endangered species. Harvest prohibited, no possession.
6 Billfish:
V.I.C., Title 12, Chapter 9A.
Federal regulations for billfish apply in territorial waters. See page
15 for specific regulations.
7 Billfish, Swordfish,
Tuna & Shark:
V.I.C., Title 12, Chapter 9A.
Federal regulations and federal permit requirements apply in
territorial waters. See page 15 for specific regulations.
8 Tarpon &
Commissioner Prescribed Rule under V.I.C., Title 12, Chapter 9A,
No harvest.
Catch and release using hook and line only.
9 Sea Turtles:
V.I.C., Title 12, Chapter 9A, §318.
Endangered species. No harvest, no possession and no harassment of
sea turtles or their eggs.
10 Aquarium
V.I.C., Title 12, Chapter 9A, §106c.
Permit required from the Department of Planning and Natural
Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Overfishing has led to a shorter fishing season in federal waters for triggerfish, filefish and lobster on St. Croix and grouper in the St. Thomas/St. John district, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced in a news release late Wednesday.

The season for triggerfish and filefish on St. Croix will end Nov. 21. The lobster season on St. Croix will end Dec. 19. The grouper season will end Dec. 20 on St. Thomas and St. John. These are the dates when NOAA projects fishermen will reach the quotas.

“On Jan. 1, 2014, the fisheries will reopen as they were,” Bill Arnold, Caribbean chief at NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, said."

Advanced Member
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 203
July 1, 2013 4:11 pm  

Thank you for the information. I think I will avoid fish all together. Shell fish on the other hand seem like not much risk.

Has anyone been to the Fish and Wildlife office on STX and are they helpful with questions?

New Member
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 1
January 26, 2018 2:19 am  

So I am here in the VI doing fiber optic cable work for hurricane repair. We were swimming today in Christiansted and there were 4 local boys in the area as well. I being from Florida and born an raised in the panhandle eat pretty much anything from the Gulf, bays, and oceans. So I had no problem picking up the very large urchins to the boys amazement. I asked if they had ever eaten one and was surprised when they replied no with a look of disgust. So after finding numerous white tined ones and showing them how to handle them without being stuck. I chose the largest and proceeded to show them how to open and clean one to retrieve the edible part. While only 3 of the 4 tried it after seeing me consume two pretty good size pieces they weren’t exactly immediate fans but were also surprised it wasn’t as terrible as they thought. I enjoyed it myself it had a fruity, seaweed, and grassy flavor with a slightly sweet and buttery finish. They tend to do like most things we consume and taste like their feed. So from the very blue waters and sea grass beds I found them in I expected they would taste amazing and I was not disappointed. Till next time and remember like the guy says if it looks good eat it!

Trusted Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 1755
January 26, 2018 11:42 am  

hey Shuck, that was a really cool post, thanks!

I'm glad you enjoyed the urchins and I'm sure those kids have a great story to tell their friends and family!

Also thanks for your help with the fiber optic cable repairs and hope you have an awesome time while you are here.

Advanced Member
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 331
January 26, 2018 2:38 pm  

Thank you for the information. I think I will avoid fish all together. Shell fish on the other hand seem like not much risk.

Has anyone been to the Fish and Wildlife office on STX and are they helpful with questions?

Fish you just have to be careful with. I have never gotten sick in over 23 years of living here from fish.

I personally have never seen what people see in Uni..... I know that Todd from Beni's hates it... I can't stand the taste of it but some people love it, then again I've had blowfish ( kinda over rated except for the thrill of the risk factor )

Trusted Member
Joined: 6 years ago
Posts: 2336
January 26, 2018 7:13 pm  

Let's just stick with Lionfish. No concerns with over harvesting them in the VI. Still have lots of barbs and poison for anyone looking for that risk factor.

Trusted Member
Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 2290
January 27, 2018 12:11 am  

I have seen a HUGE decline in all urchins after the storms. Especially the white - west indian sea eggs / gathering urchins. In fact on my tours this was a regular creature to bring to gusts so we could teach about their importance on the reefs here but its been difficult finding them. Corals will not settle on reef that is algae covered. Without urchins (and parrotfish to extent) to clear the algae, we will have no new corals. I don't know if you've been in the water but the algae blooms we are having is a major problem, the worst I've seen since I moved here. These urchins are a KEY SPECIES to clearing algae from the reef. PLEASE do not eat these (or any urchins) until they can make a comeback. Not a good policy to just eat it if it looks good with no regards to the ecological impact. We have a VERY delicate system around our islands and after the storms with run off and pollution, even more so.

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