News

Last Updated: Oct 25, 2021

Preliminary 2021 Commercial BFT Landings

Reported landings as of October 25, 2021, indicate the General category has landed 120.3 mt of the 212.2 mt October-November subquota. The Harpoon category has landed 55.8 mt of the 76 mt quota. The Longline category has landed 72.1 mt. Landing updates will be made as necessary.

General categroy October-November subquota set at 212.2 mt through quota transfer

NMFS transfers 140 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna quota from the Reserve category to the General category. This action provides additional opportunity for General category fishermen to participate in the October-November General category fishery. This action results in an adjusted subquota of 212.2 mt for the September 2021 time period and 11.5 mt in the Reserve category. As a reminder, Restricted Fishing Days will be in effect on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays throughout the October-November season.

General category September 2021 bluefin tuna fishery closes September 23, 2021 at 11:30 PM

Based on the best available landings information, NMFS has determined that the adjusted General category September 2021 subquota of 207.3 mt will be reached shortly (i.e., as of September 21, reported landings total approximately 161.6 mt) and therefore the General category fishery for large medium and giant Atlantic bluefin tuna will close. This action does not affect the recreational Angling category. The General category bluefin tuna fishery will close effective 11:30 p.m., September 23, 2021, until it begins on October 3, 2021, as October 1 and 2 are restricted fishing days, with a quota of 72.2 mt available for the October through November time period. Retaining, possessing, or landing large medium or giant BFT by persons aboard vessels permitted in the Atlantic tunas General and HMS Charter/Headboat categories must cease at 11:30 p.m. local time on September 23, 2021, through September 30, 2021. This action applies to General category permitted vessels and to HMS Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. The intent of this closure is to prevent overharvest of the available adjusted General category September BFT subquota.

General Category September subquota set at 207.3 mt through Quota Transfer

NMFS transfers 113.8 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna quota from the Reserve category to the General category. This action accounts for an accrued overharvest of 53.8 mt from previous time period subquotas in 2021 and provides additional opportunity for General category fishermen to participate in the September General category fishery. This action results in an adjusted subquota of 207.3 mt for the September 2021 time period and 24.2 mt in the Reserve category.

Bluefin Tuna General Category Restricted Fishing Days Begin in September

On September 1, 2021, the Atlantic bluefin tuna General category fishery will re-open with a daily retention limit of one large medium or giant bluefin tuna (measuring 73” or greater) per vessel per day/trip, and restricted-fishing days (RFD) will occur on every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday through November 30, 2021. The first RFD for the General category will be on September 3, 2021. On an RFD, Atlantic Tunas General category permitted vessels cannot fish for (including catch- and-release and tag-and release), possess, retain, land, or sell bluefin tuna of any size class. HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels can fish for, possess, retain, or land bluefin tuna recreationally under applicable HMS Angling category rules, but cannot commercially fish for or land a bluefin tuna on an RFD. NOAA Fisheries may waive certain RFDs by increasing the bluefin tuna retention limit for those days; however, NOAA Fisheries will not modify RFDs in other ways (e.g., switching days, adding RFDs). Both General category and Charter/Headboat permitted vessels can continue to fish for other HMS as normal on an RFD. For more information regarding the final rule and RFD schedule, see the Atlantic HMS Management Division website . Who is affected? This action applies to commercial Atlantic Tunas General category permitted vessels and to Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for bluefin tuna.  This notice is a courtesy to fishery participants to help keep you informed about the fishery. Official notice of Federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.

Stay Safe and Keep Your Distance from Whales

NOAA Fisheries reminds all fishermen and boaters to keep a safe distance from whales. Whales can get hooked in tuna rigs or tangled in monofilament line. We recommend boaters keep a distance of at least 100 to 300 feet from all whales (and at least 500 yards from endangered North Atlantic right whales, as required by federal law). Recently, we have received increasing numbers of reports of tuna fishermen trolling their gear too close to humpback whales. This can result in injuries to both the whales and the people. Humpbacks create bubble clouds to corral their prey, and then lunge through the center to swallow the small fish. Fishermen or boaters in these bubble patches run the risk of colliding with a massive 79,000-pound humpback whale as it rapidly approaches the surface. When a whale collides with a vessel, it can be gravely injured and die from its injuries. Collisions with whales have also thrown boaters from vessels, causing injuries and even death. In addition to the potential risk of a collision, the close proximity of a boat may cause a whale to stop feeding. All whales in U.S. waters are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which makes it illegal for people to harm, injure, kill, chase, or harass whales or any other marine mammal. Harassment includes any activity that results in changes to the whales’ natural behaviors, such as feeding. Penalties for Marine Mammal Protection Act violations are fines of up to $20,000 and up to one year in prison. Get more information on safe boating near whales here https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/new-england-mid-atlantic/marine-life-viewing-guidelines/whale-watching-and-wildlife-viewing-new?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

30-mt BFT Transfer to Harpoon category

NMFS transfers 30 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) quota from the Reserve category to the Harpoon category. With this transfer, the adjusted Harpoon category quota is 76 mt for the 2021 fishing season (i.e., through November 15, 2021, or until the Harpoon category quota is reached, whichever comes first).

General Category closes August 4, 2021 at 11:30 p.m.

The National Marine Fisheries Service closes the General category fishery for large medium and giant (i.e., measuring 73 inches curved fork length or greater) Atlantic bluefin tuna effective 11:30 p.m. local time, August 4, 2021. Based on the best available landing information, we project that the 277.9 mt subquota for June through August will be reached. As of August 2, reported landings total approximately 252.5 mt, and average daily catch rates are approximately 9.7 mt. The General category will re-open on September 1, 2021.

General category open; 1-fish limit starts July 11, 2021

Effective July 11, 2021, NMFS is adjusting the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) General category daily retention limit from the current limit of three to one large medium or giant BFT (measuring 73” or greater) per vessel per day/trip for the remainder of the June-August 2021 subquota period. NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fisheries closely. Dealers are required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer receiving BFT. Late reporting by dealers compromises NMFS’ ability to timely implement actions such as quota and retention limit adjustments, as well as closures, and may result in enforcement actions. Additionally, and separate from the dealer reporting requirement, General and HMS Charter/Headboat vessel owners are required to report their own catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov, by using the HMS Catch Reporting app, or calling (888) 872-8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.). Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, NMFS may determine that additional adjustments are necessary to ensure available quota is not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas.

June-August General category period opens June 1; starting at 3 fish

The Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) General category (commercial handgear) daily retention limit is 3 large medium or giant BFT (measuring 73" or greater) per vessel per day/trip, effective June 1st through August 31st or until changed, as appropriate, following close monitoring of catch rates. The General category daily retention limit applies to General category permitted vessels and to HMS Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. It is effective for all areas except for the Gulf of Mexico, which is designated as BFT spawning grounds and where NMFS does not allow targeted fishing for BFT. Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip, the daily retention limit applies upon landing. For example, whether a vessel fishing under the General category limit takes a two-day trip or makes two trips in one day, the daily limit of three fish may not be exceeded upon landing. NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fisheries closely and may make additional adjustments as necessary. Dealers are required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer receiving BFT. General category and HMS Charter/Headboat category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov, using the HMS Catch Reporting App, or calling (888) 872-8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.).

BFT Recreational Trophy Fishery CLOSING May 11, 2021

NMFS is closing the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) Angling category fishery for large medium and giant "trophy" BFT (measuring 73" or greater) in the northern area (north of Great Egg Inlet, NJ) effective 11:30 p.m. local time, May 11, 2021, through December 31, 2021. The intent of this closure is to prevent further overharvest of the Angling category northern area trophy BFT subquota. NMFS closed the 2021 Angling category trophy fishery for the southern area and Gulf of Mexico effective March 1 and May 4, respectively. Therefore, as of May 11, 2021, the Angling category trophy BFT fishery is closed in all areas for 2021. Fishermen may catch and release or tag and release BFT of all sizes, subject to the requirements of HMS catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs. NMFS regulations require that all BFT that are released be handled in a manner that will maximize their survival, and without removing the fish from the water. For additional information on safe handling, see the “Careful Catch and Release” brochure available at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/resource/educational-materials/careful-catch-and-release-brochure. HMS Charter/Headboat and Angling category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov, using the HMS Catch Reporting App, or calling (888) 872-8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.).

Bluefin Tuna Angling Category Gulf of Mexico Incidental Trophy Fishery CLOSES May 4, 2021

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) closes the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) Angling category incidental fishery for large medium and giant "trophy" BFT (measuring 73" or greater) in the Gulf of Mexico effective 11:30 p.m. local time, May 4, 2021, and the fishery will remain closed through December 31, 2021. The intent of this closure is to prevent further overharvest of the Angling category Gulf of Mexico BFT subquota. Fishermen may catch and release or tag and release BFT of all sizes, subject to the requirements of HMS catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs. For further information, please go to: LINK

2021 Recreational Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Retention Limits

Effective May 2, 2021 through December 31, 2021, the BFT daily retention limits are the following. For HMS Angling-permitted vessels: 2 school BFT (27 to 47") + 1 large school/small medium BFT (47 to 73"); for charter boats with HMS Charter/Headboat category permits, when fishing recreationally: 3 school BFT + 1 large school/small medium BFT; and for head boats with HMS Charter/Headboat category permits, when fishing recreationally: 6 school BFT + 2 large school/small medium BFT. These limits (which are per vessel per day/trip) are effective for all areas except the Gulf of Mexico. Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip (e.g., whether a vessel takes a two-day trip or makes two trips in one day), no more than a single day’s retention limit may be possessed, retained, or landed. Angling and Charter/Headboat vessels may also land one bluefin tuna measuring 73" or greater per vessel per year, north of 39°18’N (off Great Egg Inlet, NJ). The trophy bluefin fishery for the southern area and the Gulf of Mexico is closed. The recreational yellowfin tuna retention limit is 3/person/day or trip. The minimum size for yellowfin and bigeye tuna is 27" curved fork length. There are no recreational limits for bigeye, skipjack, or albacore tunas. For further information please go to: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/rules-and-announcements/notices-and-rules?field_species_vocab_target_id=&management_area%5BHighly+Migratory+Species%5D=Highly+Migratory+Species&sort_by=field_relevant_date_value&title=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

Bluefin Tuna Angling Category Southern Trophy Fishery CLOSES March 1, 2021

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) closes the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) Angling category fishery for large medium and giant "trophy" BFT (measuring 73" or greater) in the southern area effective 11:30 p.m. local time, March 1, 2021 and the fishery will remain closed through December 31, 2021. The southern area is the area south of 39°18'N (off Great Egg Inlet, NJ), outside the Gulf of Mexico. The intent of this closure is to prevent further overharvest of the Angling category southern area trophy BFT subquota. Fishermen may catch and release or tag and release BFT of all sizes, subject to the requirements of HMS catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs. For further information, please go to: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/noaa-fisheries-closes-atlantic-bluefin-tuna-angling-category-southern-area-trophy-fishery

General Category January through March 2021 Bluefin Tuna Fishery Closes February 27, 2021

Based on the best available landings information, NMFS has determined that the adjusted General category January through March 2021 subquota of 75 mt will be reached (i.e., as of February 26, reported landings total approximately 69.2 mt) and therefore the General category fishery for large medium and giant Atlantic bluefin tuna will close. The General category bluefin tuna fishery will close effective 11:30 p.m., February 27, 2021, until it reopens on June 1, 2021 with a quota of 277.9 mt available for the June through August time period. Retaining, possessing, or landing large medium or giant BFT by persons aboard vessels permitted in the Atlantic tunas General and HMS Charter/Headboat categories must cease at 11:30 p.m. local time on February 27, 2021, through May 31, 2021. This action applies to General category permitted vessels and to HMS Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. The intent of this closure is to prevent overharvest of the available General category January through March BFT subquota. For further information, please go to: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/general-category-bluefin-fishery-close-january-through-march-subquota-period

General category transfer for January through March 2021 subquota period

In accordance with the Atlantic bluefin tuna quota regulations, NMFS has determined the 2021 Purse Seine category quota available to Purse Seine category participants is 55 mt. The amount of Purse Seine category quota reallocated to the Reserve category is 164.5 mt. This reallocation would result in an adjusted 2021 Reserve category quota of 194 mt (29.5 + 164.5), before any further transfers to other categories. NMFS also transfers 26 mt of bluefin tuna quota from the 2021 Reserve category to the 2021 General category, resulting in an adjusted 2021 General category January through March subquota of 75 mt. As a result of this quota transfer, the adjusted 2021 Reserve category quota is 168 mt. NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fisheries closely. Dealers are required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer receiving BFT. In addition, General category and HMS Charter/Headboat category vessel owners are required to report their own catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing (or end of each trip, by accessing the HMS Permit Shop, using the HMS Catch Reporting app, or calling (888) 872-8862 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.) Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, including catches of the General category quota during the winter fishery, NMFS may determine that additional adjustments are necessary to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas, and to ensure available quota is not exceeded. For further information, please go to: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/bulletin/adjustments-atlantic-bluefin-tuna-purse-seine-and-reserve-category-quotas-and-general

2021 Recreational Atlantic Tunas Retention Limits

Effective January 1, 2021, the bluefin tuna (BFT) daily retention limit is the default limit of 1 school, large school, or small medium BFT (27 to <73"). This default limit applies to both HMS Angling category-permitted vessels and HMS Charter/Headboat category-permitted vessels, and is effective for all areas except the Gulf of Mexico. Angling and Charter/Headboat vessels may also land 1 BFT tuna measuring 73" or greater per vessel per year in all trophy areas. The recreational yellowfin tuna retention limit is 3/person/day or trip. The minimum size for yellowfin and bigeye tuna is 27" curved fork length. There are no recreational limits for bigeye, skipjack, or albacore tunas.

General category transfer for January through March 2021 subquota period; 1-fish limit

NMFS transfers 19.5 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna quota (BFT) from the 28.9-mt General category December 2021 subquota period to the January through March 2021 subquota period, resulting in a subquota of 49 mt for the January through March 2021 period and a subquota of 9.4 mt for the December 2021 period. NMFS reminds General category participants that when the fishery reopens January 1, 2021, the daily retention limit will be one large medium or giant bluefin tuna (measuring 73” or greater) per vessel per day/trip. NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fisheries closely. Dealers are required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer receiving BFT. In addition, General category and HMS Charter/Headboat category vessel owners are required to report their own catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing the HMS Permit Shop, using the HMS Catch Reporting app, or calling (888) 872-8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.). Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, including catches of the General category quota during the winter fishery, NMFS may determine that additional adjustments are necessary to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas, and to ensure available quota is not exceeded. For further information, please go to: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/noaa-fisheries-adjusts-atlantic-bluefin-tuna-general-category-january-march-2021-subquota-49

PERMITS FOR 2021 ARE NOW AVAILABLE

This notice outlines the procedure for obtaining a 2021 Atlantic Tunas Permit, which allows you to commercially fish for and/or retain Atlantic bluefin, yellowfin, skipjack, albacore, and bigeye tunas; a Swordfish General Commercial Permit, which allows you to commercially fish for and/or retain Atlantic Swordfish; an Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Angling Permit, which allows you to recreationally fish for and/or retain any regulated Atlantic HMS (Atlantic tunas, sharks, swordfish, or billfish); or an HMS Charter/Headboat Permit, which is required by vessels taking fee paying passengers fishing for or retaining HMS. The permits issued for the 2021 season will be valid from the date of issuance through December 31, 2021. The permit fee will vary between $26.00 and $52.00 depending on the permit you apply for, and is payable by credit card (Visa, Master Card, Discover, or American Express) or check/money order. You will need your Atlantic tunas or your Atlantic HMS permit number to renew your permit for this up-coming season. If you do not have your permit number from last year available, you may look it up at https://hmspermits.noaa.gov using your last name, phone number, and zip code, or a Customer Service representative may assist at the number below. Please check your current permit information carefully prior to renewing your permit. Please Note: Changes to your permit category may be made under the following circumstances: a) When you renew the permit for the upcoming season; b) Within 45-calendar days from the permits’ date of issuance, to correct any errors in permit category provided the vessel has not landed bluefin. If you have questions regarding the permit process, our Customer Service representatives are available at (888) 872-8862, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

Catch-and-release only for Atlantic marlin and roundscale spearfish, effective September 30, 2020

NMFS has determined that the recreational landings limit for Atlantic blue marlin, white marlin and roundscale spearfish has been reached and exceeded for 2020, based upon a review of landings data. Therefore, NMFS is prohibiting retention of Atlantic blue marlin, white marlin, and roundscale spearfish in the Atlantic HMS recreational fisheries. Fishing for these species will be limited to catch-and-release only, effective September 30, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

NOAA Fisheries Advises Commercial Bluefin Fishermen: Find a Buyer BEFORE you go Fishing

NOAA Fisheries encourages operators of vessels authorized to sell bluefin tuna to contact their local Atlantic tuna dealers before departing on a trip, to determine if dealers are willing to purchase bluefin. Some dealers may not accept or buy bluefin given uncertainty regarding current market conditions. Individuals who fish commercially for bluefin tuna, including those with a Harpoon category, General category, or HMS Charter/Headboat category (with a commercial sale endorsement) permit are affected.

What if I Can't Sell My Commercial Bluefin Tuna?

NOAA Fisheries strongly encourages fishermen to get confirmation that a dealer will buy your fish before you leave on a trip. If you land a bluefin that you are not able to sell, read on for reporting instructions. NOAA Fisheries requires bluefin tuna to be sold only to Federally permitted Atlantic tunas dealers. NOAA Fisheries has become aware that some dealers are limiting their purchases of bluefin tuna due to market conditions, and that some fishermen have not been able to sell their catch.  To ensure that landed fish are fully utilized, NOAA Fisheries encourages commercial bluefin fishermen to locate a dealer that will purchase their fish prior to leaving for a fishing trip. What should I do if a fish cannot be sold? 1) Whether a bluefin is sold or not, vessel owners are required to report their entire catch of bluefin tuna retained or discarded, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip by one of these following methods. A report confirmation number is provided upon successful reporting: • Reporting online via the this website (HMS Permit Shop) • Using the HMS Catch Reporting App on a smartphone or similar device • Calling 888-872-8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.). 2) In addition to the above, if a fish cannot be sold, the vessel operator MUST contact NOAA Fisheries at 978-281-9213 and report the fish, immediately upon landing. If requested, the fish must be made available to enforcement for tagging. Alternatively, the vessel operator can request that an Atlantic tunas dealer tag the bluefin tuna and then report it as being “landed but not sold,” but this is solely at the dealer’s discretion.

Notice to Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Commercial Handgear Fisheries on Retention Limits Starting June 1

NMFS announces that the following default BFT daily retention limits will be in effect June 1, 2020. These limits will remain in effect until amended by NMFS, as warranted. General category: One large medium or giant BFT (measuring 73” or greater) per vessel per day/trip. Harpoon category: Two large medium BFT per vessel per day/trip. There is no daily retention limit for giant BFT in the Harpoon category. NMFS encourages operators of vessels authorized to sell BFT to contact their local Atlantic tuna dealers before departing on a trip to determine if dealers are willing to purchase landed BFT. NMFS is aware that some federally permitted Atlantic tunas dealers may not be planning to accept or buy BFT given uncertainty regarding current market conditions. The General category retention limit applies to General category permitted vessels and to HMS Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. It is effective for all areas except for the Gulf of Mexico, where NMFS does not allow targeted fishing for BFT. Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip, the daily retention limit applies upon landing. NMFS requires BFT to be sold only to federally permitted Atlantic tunas dealers. In the event that a fish cannot be sold, the vessel operator must contact NMFS at 978-281-9213 immediately upon landing the BFT and, if requested, make the fish available to enforcement for tagging. Alternatively, the vessel operator can request that an Atlantic tunas dealer tag the BFT and then report it as being “landed but not sold,” but this is solely at the dealer’s discretion. All BFT landed but not sold will be applied to the quota category according to the permit of the vessel from which it was landed. NMFS will actively monitor the BFT fisheries. Dealers are required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer receiving BFT. General category and HMS Charter/Headboat category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov, using the HMS Catch Reporting App, or calling (888) 872-8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.). NMFS will closely monitor catch rates associated with the various authorized gear types (e.g., harpoon, rod and reel) during the General category June–August period and actively adjust the daily retention limit as appropriate. For further information, please go to: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/bulletin/notice-atlantic-bluefin-tuna-commercial-handgear-fisheries-retention-limits-starting

Other 2020 HMS Recreational Limits

The recreational daily swordfish retention limit is 1 fish/person, with maximums of 4 fish/private vessel, 6 for a charter vessel, and 15 for a headboat vessel. The minimum size for swordfish within the recreational fishery is 47" lower jaw-fork length. You may not keep longbill spearfish. There are no retention limits for Atlantic sailfish, blue marlin and white marlin, but NMFS encourages recreational anglers to release all billfish alive. The minimum sizes for billfish are as follows: blue marlin: 99" lower jaw fork length; white marlin and roundscale spearfish: 66" lower jaw fork length; sailfish: 63" lower jaw fork length; longbill spearfish: retention prohibited. Lower jaw fork length is a straight line measurement from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the caudal fin. There are a total of 21 prohibited shark species that vessel operators should be able to identify (see compliance guide for details). For recreationally-caught sharks, retention of ridgeback sharks other than tiger or smooth dogfish (and oceanic whitetip in certain circumstances) is prohibited. For shortfin mako, catch and release is encouraged, and the minimum size for landing is 83" straight-line fork length. In summary, the recreational shark limit is 1 shark/vessel/trip with a minimum size of 54" fork length (but 78" for hammerheads, 71" for male shortfin mako, and 83" for female shortfin mako ) plus 1 Atlantic sharpnose shark/person/trip (no min. size); plus 1 bonnethead/person/trip (no min. size). There is no retention or size limit for smoothhound sharks (smooth dogfish, Florida smoothhound, and Gulf smoothhound).

New Permit Endorsements for 2018

**New for 2018** Shark Endorsement – HMS Angling or Charter/Headboat permit holders that wish to recreationally fish for and/or retain sharks are required to add a Shark Endorsement to their permit. To obtain a shark endorsement, applicants must watch a short (3 minute) online educational video on shark identification and handling, and complete a quiz (7 questions). Charter/Headboat Commercial Endorsement – Charter/Headboat permit holders that wish to fish commercially for HMS must add the Charter/Headboat Commercial Endorsement to their permit. Adding the charter/headboat commercial endorsement will subject your vessel to US Coast Guard commercial fishing vessel safety requirements.

HMS Compliance Guides

Please see https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/atlantic-highly-migratory-species/atlantic-hms-fishery-compliance-guides

REMINDER: Mandatory USCG Commercial Vessel Safety Exams

NOAA Fisheries is reminding commercial Highly Migratory Species (HMS) vessel permit holders that they are required to obtain a United States Coast Guard (USCG) Commercial Fishing Vessel Dockside Safety Examination. Effective October 15, 2015, the law requires completion of a mandatory dockside safety exam at least once every five years. See USCG Marine Safety Information Bulletin, or MSIB, 12-15 for clarification about the five-year mandatory dockside safety exam. Commercial fishing means: a vessel that commercially engages in the catching, taking, or harvesting of fish which, either in whole or in part, is intended to enter commerce through sale, barter, or trade. So, whether your vessel is USCG documented or State registered, if you catch fish beyond 3 nautical miles with the intent to sell them, you are operating a commercial fishing vessel. The USCG categorizes vessels that hold one or more of the follow HMS permits as commercial fishing vessels subject to mandatory dockside safety exams: • Atlantic Tunas General Category • Atlantic Tunas Harpoon Category • HMS Charter/Headboat Category • General Commercial Swordfish • Atlantic Tunas Longline • Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine • Shark Directed Limited Access • Shark Incidental Limited Access • Atlantic Smoothhound • Swordfish Directed Limited Access • Swordfish Incidental Limited Access • Swordfish Harpoon Limited Access Commercial fishing vessels are required to comply with the commercial fishing vessel safety regulations found in 46 CFR Part 28. For more info about dockside safety exams and how to obtain a decal: https://www.uscg.mil/msib/docs/012_15_10-20-2015.pdf USCG has a helpful tool to assist vessel owners/operators prepare their fishing vessel prior to examination. Commercial Fishing Vessel Checklist Generator: https://www.uscg.mil/d13/cfvs/test/1ChecklistCover.html This notice is a courtesy to commercial HMS permit holders to help keep you informed about the fishery. For additional information, call (978) 281-9260, or go to hmspermits.noaa.gov. Official notice of Federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.

Bluefin Catch Reporting Requirements

Atlantic Tunas General, Harpoon, and HMS Charter/Headboat categories, starting on January 1, 2015, are required to report the number and length of all bluefin tuna retained or discarded dead through the online catch reporting system of this website within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip. See the "Landings Reports" section on the home page for more information.

Rules Regarding Permit Category Changes

Vessel owners can modify the category of an Atlantic Tunas or HMS permit up to 45 days from date of issuance, provided the vessel has not landed bluefin tuna as verified via landings data. This is a change from the previous restriction of 10 calendar days.

ESA listing for Atlantic bluefin tuna not warranted

After an extensive scientific review, NOAA announced today that Atlantic bluefin tuna currently do not warrant species protection under the Endangered Species Act. NOAA has committed to revisit this decision by early 2013, when more information will be available about the effects of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill, as well as a new stock assessment from the scientific arm of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, the international body charged with the fish’s management and conservation. NOAA is formally designating both the western Atlantic and eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean stocks of bluefin tuna as "species of concern" under the Endangered Species Act. This places the species on a watchlist for concerns about its status and threats to the species.

Reminder for Charter/Headboat owners and operators

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) wants to remind fishermen there are several federal regulations regarding fishing for dolphin and wahoo in federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean (Maine through the east coast of Florida). Summary of requirements *Owners and operators of charter vessels, and headboats are required to have a federal vessel permit to fish for or possess dolphin and wahoo in the Atlantic Ocean. *The vessel operator must have an operator card on board the vessel along with one other form of personal identification that includes a picture (driver license, passport, etc.). *How to get a permit or operator card* If you are the owner of a vessel needing a vessel permit and operator card to fish for dolphin and wahoo, please contact the Permits Branch at the address listed below: NOAA Fisheries Service, Southeast Regional Office, Permits Branch, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701; Phone: 727-824-5326; FAX: 727-551-5747. For a copy of the offical notice, visit the library (at left of screen).

PERMIT APPLICANTS MUST HAVE VESSEL'S OFFICAL REGISTRATION

Regulations implemented under the authority of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act governing the harvest of Highly Migratory Species (HMS), including tunas, sharks, swordfish, and billfish by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. Under these regulations vessels are required to posses a permit to fish for HMS, regardless of fishing recreationally or commercially. These permits are legally issued to ONLY those vessels that have a valid registration, which can be verified with the U.S. Coast Guard or by the issuing State. No temporary registrations are allowed. It is unlawful for any person or vessel subject to these regulations to falsify information required on the application, and if discovered the responsible parties may be prosecuted.

Reporting Recreational Swordfish and Billfish Landings

Effective October 17th, 2007, a new internet based reporting system for recreational non-tournament landings of North Atlantic swordfish and billfish will be available. All recreational non-tournament swordfish and billfish landings, including those from Charter/Headboats, must be reported by the permitted owner of the vessel landing the fish, or their designee, within 24 hours of landing. A landed fish means a fish that is kept and has been brought to shore. Vessels landing swordfish or billfish in North Carolina and Maryland must report their landings through the state landing card programs. Vessels landing swordfish or billfish in all other states, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, must report their landings using the new internet reporting portal at http://www.hmspermits.gov or by calling the 1-800-894-5528 reporting line.

LPS BFT Length Validation Assessment Paper

The Large Pelagics Survey (LPIS) collects length data on recreationally landed Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT). The LPS Procedures Manual (prior to 2005) specified that interviewers should measure and record the straight fork length (SFL) of BFT, not the curved fork length (CFL) that is used to define size classes for management purposes. Recently, some members of the recreational and commercial fishing industry have questioned whether or not this procedure has been consistently followed in the field. Some individuals have reported seeing LPS interviewers measuring CFLs of landed BFT. Therefore, they have raised a concern that the interviewers may actually have been recording CFLs rather than SFLs. The CFL of a given fish is greater than its SFL by some small factor (typically between 1-5%). If such errors have occurred, then LPS estimates of landed weight of BFT by size category would most likely be positively biased since length data are converted to weights for landings estimates. This evaluation was conducted to: 1) determine the extent to which CFLs were mistakenly recorded, and the extent to which such errors may have biased the overall BFT landed weight estimate, and 2) investigate the effects that biased measurements could potentially have had on prior stock assessments.