News

Last Updated: Dec 4, 2023

Commercial Bluefin Tuna Landings Update

As of December 4, 2023 the General category landed 30.8 mt of the 48.7 mt December subquota and 825.8 mt for the year; Harpoon category (closed) 73.2 mt; and Longline category 111.8.

General Category Bluefin Tuna Fishery Closes October 9, 2023 at 11:30 p.m. and Quota Transfer

The General category fishery for large medium and giant (i.e., measuring 73 inches (185 cm) curved fork length or greater) Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) closes effective 11:30 p.m. October 9, 2023. This action applies to Atlantic Tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels and highly migratory species (HMS) Charter/Headboat permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. This action also waives the previously-scheduled restricted-fishing days (RFDs) for the remainder of the October - November time period. With the RFDs waived during the closure, fishermen aboard General category permitted vessels and HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels may tag and release BFT of all sizes, subject to the requirements of the catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs. On December 1, 2023, the fishery will reopen automatically.

General Category Bluefin Tuna Fishery Closes September 17, 2023 at 11:30 p.m. and Quota Transfer

The General category fishery for large medium and giant (i.e., measuring 73 inches (185 cm) curved fork length or greater) Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) closes effective 11:30 p.m. September 17, 2023. This action applies to Atlantic Tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels and highly migratory species (HMS) Charter/Headboat permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. This action also waives the previously-scheduled restricted-fishing days (RFDs) for the remainder of the September time period. With the RFDs waived during the closure, fishermen aboard General category permitted vessels and HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels may tag and release BFT of all sizes, subject to the requirements of the catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs. On October 1, 2023, the fishery will reopen automatically and previously-scheduled RFDs for October will resume.

General category June-August 2023 timeperiod bluefin tuna fishery closes August 17; re-opens Sept 1

NMFS closes the General category fishery for large medium and giant (i.e., measuring 73 inches (185 cm) curved fork length or greater) Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) for the remainder of the June through August time period, effective 11:30 p.m. August 17, 2023. This action applies to Atlantic Tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels and highly migratory species (HMS) Charter/Headboat permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. This action also waives the previously-scheduled restricted-fishing days (RFDs) for the remainder of the June through August time period. With the RFDs waived during the closure, fishermen aboard General category permitted vessels and HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels may tag and release BFT of all sizes, subject to the requirements of the catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs. On September 1, 2023, the fishery will reopen automatically and previously-scheduled RFDs for September will resume.

Bluefin Tuna Angling Category Gulf of Maine Trophy Fishery CLOSES August 5, 2023

The recreational fishery for "trophy" bluefin tuna (measuring 73" or greater) in the Gulf of Maine (north of 42° N. lat) closes effective 11:30 p.m., August 5, 2023, through December 31, 2023. 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.

Preliminary 2023 Recreational BFT Trophy Landings

As of August 4, 2023, landings in the Trophy Gulf of Maine region total 2.3 mt of the 2.3-mt quota. Trophy Southern New England, Trophy South and Trophy Gulf of Mexico Regions are closed for the remainder of 2023, with total landings of 2.7 mt, 3.9 mt and 4.0 mt, respectively. Landing updates will be made as necessary.

Harpoon Category closed July 30, 2023

After 11:30 p.m. on July 30, 2023, fishermen aboard vessels with an Atlantic Tunas Harpoon category permit may not retain, possess, or land large medium or giant bluefin (i.e., measuring 73 inches curved fork length or greater). The Harpoon category will reopen on June 1, 2024.

NMFS transfers 10.8mt to the Harpoon category

NMFS transferred 10.8 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna quota from the Reserve category to the Harpoon category on July 21, 2023, resulting in an adjusted Harpoon category quota of 70 mt and an adjusted Reserve category quota of 27.4 mt. This action applies to Atlantic Tunas Harpoon category (commercial) permitted vessels. The 2023 Harpoon category fishery is open until November 15, 2023, or until the Harpoon category quota is reached, whichever comes first.

Harpoon Category retention limit adjustment

From July 14, 2023 until November 15, 2023, the Harpoon category bluefin tuna (BFT) daily retention limit is 5 large medium and giant BFT (measuring 73 inches or greater curved fork length), combined, per vessel per day/trip.The incidental daily catch limit of 2 large medium BFT (measuing 73 inches to less than 81 inches curved fork length) per vessel per day/trip remains.

Bluefin Tuna Angling Category Southern New England Trophy Fishery CLOSES June 5, 2023

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 New England area effective 11:30 p.m. local time, June 5, 2023 and the fishery will remain closed through December 31, 2023. The southern New England area is the area south of 42° N. lat. and north of 39°18′ N. lat. The intent of this closure is to prevent further overharvest of the Angling category southern New England 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.

General category bluefin tuna restricted-fishing days for 2023

NMFS announces a final rule regarding the use of restricted-fishing days (RFDs) in the Atlantic Tunas General category and HMS Charter/Headboat fisheries. Daily commercial bluefin tuna retention limits will be set to zero on RFDs. For 2023, RFDs are every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday from July 1 through November 30. Atlantic Tunas General category permitted vessels cannot fish for (including catch-and-release and tag-and-release), possess, retain, land, or sell a bluefin tuna of any size class on an RFD. 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. Throughout the season, 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).

Bluefin Tuna Angling Category Gulf of Mexico Incidental Trophy Fishery CLOSES May 9, 2023

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 9, 2023, and the fishery will remain closed through December 31, 2023. 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.

2023 Recreational Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Retention Limits

Effective May 3, 2023 through December 31, 2023, 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, between 39°18’N (off Great Egg Inlet, NJ) and 42° N (off Chatham, MA), north of 42°, and in the Gulf of Mexico. The trophy bluefin fishery for the southern area 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.

Bluefin Tuna Angling Category Southern Trophy Fishery CLOSES February 22, 2023

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, February 22, 2023 and the fishery will remain closed through December 31, 2023. 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.

Preliminary 2023 Commercial BFT Landings

Reported landings as of February 21, 2023, indicate the General category has landed 69.9 mt of the 58.2-mt January-March subquota. The Longline category has landed 11.7 mt. Landing updates will be made as necessary.

General Category January through March 2023 Bluefin Tuna Fishery Closes February 14, 2023

Based on the best available landings information, NMFS has determined that the adjusted General category January through March 2023 subquota of 58.2 mt has been reached (i.e., as of February 13, reported landings total approximately 67 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 14, 2023, until it reopens on June 1, 2023 with a quota of 355.4 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 14, 2023, through May 31, 2023. This action applies to General category (Commercial) 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 further overharvest of the available General category January through March BFT subquota.

2023 Recreational Atlantic Tunas Retention Limits

Effective January 1, 2023, 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 2023 subquota period; 1-fish limit

NMFS transfers 20.5 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna quota (BFT) from the 37-mt General category December 2023 subquota period to the January through March 2023 subquota period, resulting in a subquota of 58.2 mt for the January through March 2023 period and a subquota of 16.5 mt for the December 2023 period. NMFS reminds General category participants that when the fishery reopens January 1, 2023, 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.federalregister.gov/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

PERMITS FOR 2023 ARE NOW AVAILABLE

This notice outlines the procedure for obtaining a 2023 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 2023 season will be valid from the date of issuance through December 31, 2023. 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.

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. All commercially caught bluefin tuna must be tagged and reported, regardless if sold. Dealers may tag unsold fish at their discretion. If dealers are unable to tag an unsold bluefin, the permit holder must call, immediately upon landing, the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement at 978-675-9213 to receive a tag number by phone. You must also submit a catch report using the mobile app or website.

Shortfin Mako Shark ZERO RETENTION July 5, 2022

This final rule establishes a shortfin mako shark retention limit of zero in the commercial and recreational Atlantic HMS fisheries, consistent with the management measure adopted in 2021 by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). If ICCAT provides for U.S. harvest in the future, NMFS could increase the shortfin mako shark retention limit, based on regulatory criteria and the amount of retention allowed by ICCAT. Until that happens, the retention limit will remain at zero. To comply with this rule, commercial and recreational fishermen (including those fishing in tournaments or on for-hire vessels) with HMS permits must release any shortfin mako sharks captured while the retention limit is zero, whether the shark is dead or alive at haulback. NMFS will notify the public of any change to the commercial and/or recreational shortfin mako shark retention limit via Federal Register notice and email.

Bluefin Tuna and Northern Albacore Quotas

NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule to modify the annual U.S. quota and subquotas for Atlantic bluefin tuna, as well as the annual U.S. North Atlantic albacore tuna (northern albacore) quota. The final rule: 1. Increases the baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota from 1,247.86 metric tons (mt) to 1,316.14 mt. 2. Adjusts all the bluefin tuna domestic fishing category subquotas per the existing quota distribution formulas. 3. Increases the baseline annual U.S. northern albacore quota from 632.4 mt to 711.5 mt. 4. Further adjusts the bluefin tuna Reserve category and northern albacore quotas based on the underharvest of the 2021 quotas, which result in the following quotas: Atlantic bluefin tuna Reserve category: 306.69 mt Northern albacore: 889.4 mt These changes are consistent with the 2021 recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and should achieve the domestic management objectives under the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. A full description of the final U.S. bluefin tuna quotas and resulting subquotas and U.S. northern albacore quota can be found in the final rule and supporting Environmental Assessment, both of which are on the NOAA Fisheries website.

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

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.

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.