Final Rule: Restricted-Fishing Days for the 2023 Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fishery
NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule regarding Atlantic bluefin tuna General category restricted-fishing days (RFDs) for 2023. RFDs apply only to Atlantic Tunas General category and HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels.
What will it do?
The final rule:
- Establishes a specific RFD schedule. Daily commercial bluefin tuna retention limits will be set to zero every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday from July 1 through November 30 for the 2023 fishing year.
- Prohibits Atlantic Tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels from fishing for (including catch-and-release and tag-and-release), possessing, retaining, landing, or selling a bluefin tuna of any size class on an RFD.
- Allows HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels to fish for, possess, retain, or land bluefin tuna recreationally under applicable HMS Angling category rules, but prohibits commercial fishing for or landing bluefin tuna on an RFD.
- Provides NOAA Fisheries flexibility to waive certain RFDs throughout the season 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).
Who/What is affected?
- Any Atlantic Tunas General category or HMS Charter/Headboat permit holder fishing commercially for bluefin tuna.
- Any dealers who buy or sell Atlantic bluefin tuna.
- Some Atlantic bluefin tuna tournaments that are open to participation by Atlantic Tunas General category permit holders.
Fishermen should continue to follow all other relevant fishery regulations summarized in the Atlantic HMS compliance guides.
After considering public comment, NOAA Fisheries is not establishing RFDs for December 2023 or from January through March 2024.