Atlantic Billfish Recreational Minimum Sizes and Bag Limits


This summary is provided as a courtesy. Regulations are officially announced through the Federal Register.
Fishing Type
Action Status
Final Rule
Page updated July 1, 2020
Point of Contact
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Management Division, (727) 824-5399


Minimum sizes and bag limits vary by species. Additional requirements may be applicable. View the HMS Recreational Compliance Guide for details. 


Fishery Status

Minimum Size* 

(lower-jaw fork length)

Bag Limit*

Blue marlin

Catch and Release Only*


0 (No retention)




No limit**

White marlin

Catch and Release Only*


0 (No retention)

Roundscale spearfish

Catch and Release Only*


0 (No retention)

*U.S. total landings of blue marlin, white marlin, and roundscale spearfish,combined are limited to 250 annually. NMFS has determined that the recreational landings limit has been reached and exceeded for the 2020 fishing year based on a review of landings data. Therefore, NMFS is prohibiting further retention of these species in the Atlantic HMS recreational fisheries. Fishing for these species will be limited to catch-and-release fishery only for the remainder of 2020.

**Sailfish cannot be retained if a hammerhead or oceanic whitetip shark is already on board or has been offloaded from the vessel.


Vessels must have a valid HMS Angling or HMS Charterboat/Headboat permit to fish for Atlantic billfish. The permit covers everyone fishing on that vessel. Tournament vessels may instead fish these species with an Atlantic Tunas General category or Swordfish General Commercial permit. 

Buy or renew a permit


Measure lower-jaw fork length in a straight line from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the tail. 

Lower-jaw fork length_billfish.png

Illustration by Diane Rome Peebles. 


Last updated by Office of Sustainable Fisheries on 09/29/2020