U.S. authorities created the new limits using catch reports that fishermen in the two territories submitted in recent years, Crabtree said.
"All of us recognize that in some cases, fishermen haven't filled out reports and that there are gaps in their data," he said. "These are the best catch estimates we have."
In Puerto Rico, NOAA officials did a recreational fishing survey to help fill in the gaps, but money was not available to do the same in the U.S. Virgin Islands, he said.
Despite concerns about the effect on the islands' economies, the new limits will ensure sustainable fishing, said Eugenio Pineiro, former chairman of the Caribbean Fishery Management Council and a member of its advisory council.
"We all want the same thing: lots of fish in the water," he said.
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