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Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Commercial Minimum Sizes and Retention Limits


This summary is provided as a courtesy. Regulations are officially announced through the Federal Register.
Fishing Type
Action Status
Final Rule
Page updated 12/1/2020
Point of Contact
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Management Division, 978-281-9260


Minimum sizes and retention limits vary by permit type and fish size. Additional requirements may be applicable. View the HMS Commercial Compliance Guide for details. 

Permit Type

Fishery Status

Minimum Size

(curved fork length)

Retention Limit 

HMS Charter/Headboat with a commercial endorsement

Closed. Fishing permitted beginning on October 3.

73” or greater


Atlantic Tunas General category

Closed. Fishing permitted beginning on October 3.

73” or greater


Atlantic Tunas Harpoon category


73” or greater


2/vessel/day for 73-81”

Unlimited for 81” or greater

Atlantic Tunas Trap category


73” or greater


Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category




Atlantic Tunas Longline category


73” or greater

IBQ Program



To commercially harvest bluefin tuna in federal waters—as well as the state waters of all states except Maine, Connecticut, and Mississippi—vessel owners must obtain one of the following permits: 

  • Atlantic Tunas permit, which has General, Harpoon, Trap, Longline, and Purse Seine categories. Vessels with a Longline category permit must also have a Swordfish Directed or Swordfish Incidental permit. 

  • Atlantic HMS Charter/Headboat permit with a commercial endorsement. 

  • HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit, which is valid only in the U.S. Caribbean region. 

Only one permit type will be issued to a vessel per year. 

Buy or renew a permit


Measure curved fork length by following the curve of the fish's body from the tip of the jaw to fork of the tail. 

Curved fork length_bluefin tuna.png

Illustration by Diane Rome Peebles. 

Last updated by Office of Sustainable Fisheries on 09/24/2021

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Commercial Fisheries