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Pelagic Longline Bluefin Tuna Area-Based and Weak Hook Management Measures

Overview

Fishing Type
Commercial
Action Status
Final Rule
Effective
04/02/2020
Point of Contact
Craig Cockrell, (301) 427-8503, or Jennifer Cudney, (727) 824-5399.

Summary

NOAA Fisheries has adjusted regulatory measures put in place to manage bluefin tuna bycatch in the pelagic longline fishery for Atlantic highly migratory species (HMS), specifically addressing the Northeastern United States Closed Area, the Cape Hatteras Gear Restricted Area, and the Spring Gulf of Mexico Gear Restricted Area as well as the weak hook requirement in the Gulf of Mexico.

The new measures affect the HMS pelagic longline fishery in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. 

Summary of Actions

Topic Action
Northeastern United States Closed Area

Undertake a review process to evaluate the continued need for the Northeastern United States Pelagic Longline Closure. Includes provisions to reduce the threshold in the event that the U.S. allocation of bluefin tuna is reduced at a future International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas meeting and to clarify the timing of certain operational processes associated with this alternative.

Cape Hatteras Gear Restricted Area Eliminate of the Cape Hatteras Gear Restricted Area.
Spring Gulf of Mexico Gear Restricted Area Undertake a review process to evaluate the continued need for the Spring Gulf of Mexico Gear Restricted Area. Includes provisions to reduce the threshold in the event that the U.S. allocation of bluefin tuna is reduced at a future International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas meeting and to clarify the timing of certain operational processes associated with this alternative.
Weak hooks Seasonal requirement for weak hooks.


Compliance Requirements

To comply with this rule, fishermen must take the following actions. These are in addition to other requirements for the pelagic longline fishery.

  • NOAA Fisheries will continue to monitor the fishing locations of vessels via vessel monitoring systems (VMS) and monitor bluefin tuna catch via VMS set reports. Additionally, as of April 2, and as soon as VMS forms are updated by vendors (update currently in progress), vessels fishing with pelagic longline gear in the monitoring areas must select specific location codes when submitting set reports through their VMS systems:
    • Spring Gulf of Mexico Pelagic Longline Monitoring Area: Area 4
    • Northeastern United States Pelagic Longline Monitoring Area: Area 5
  • Pelagic longline vessels fishing in the Gulf of Mexico are required to use weak hooks from January 1–June 30.

 Area Map

HMS gear restricted and closed areas.png
 

Changes Since Draft Environmental Impact Statement

This rule includes minor clarifying changes from the DEIS and proposed rule for the Northeastern United States Closed Area and Spring Gulf of Mexico Gear Restricted Area. We included a provision to ensure that the threshold for the closure of the area effectively remains the same (percentage-wise) in the event that the U.S. allocation of bluefin tuna is reduced at ICCAT.

Another minor change that has been made since the DEIS clarified the timing of inseason closure notices that could occur in response to thresholds being met for the Northeastern United States Monitoring Area and the Spring Gulf of Mexico Monitoring Area.

Webinar Schedule and Information

 

Event: Reconsideration of the Spring Gulf of Mexico Monitoring Area Public Webinar

Event address for attendees: https://noaanmfs-meets.webex.com/noaanmfs-meets/onstage/g.php?MTID=e2f86fe7deef919c9b963972bfbe318bd
Date and time: Wednesday, June 23, 2021 10:00 am EDT
Duration: 2 hours
Description: Reconsideration of the Spring Gulf of Mexico Monitoring Area Public Webinar Session 1
Event number: 199 354 3642
Event password: X2F8Gi
Audio conference: +1-415-527-5035, Access code: 199 354 3642

 

Event: Reconsideration of the Spring Gulf of Mexico Monitoring Area Public Webinar

Event address for attendees: https://noaanmfs-meets.webex.com/noaanmfs-meets/onstage/g.php?MTID=e7503eaa37b18fdc89e5d33e58e1e77c2
Date and time: Wednesday, June 30, 2021 2:00 pm EDT
Duration: 2 hours
Description: Reconsideration of the Spring Gulf of Mexico Monitoring Area Public Webinar Session 2
Event number: 199 619 5627
Event password: X2F8Gi
Audio conference: +1-415-527-5035, Access code: 199 619 5627

 

For more information about the reconsideration process see the our recent news bulletin.

 

Bluefin Tuna Catch Occurring During the Monitoring Periods of the Spring Gulf of Mexico and Northeastern United States Monitoring Areas

2020

Longline Category Regional BFT Catch in Pounds Whole Weight (Not Including NED)

Landings

Discards

Total

Monitoring Area Threshold*

  Atlantic (June 1- 30, 2020)

10,748

6,631

17,379

 

             Areas Outside the NE US Monitoring Area

10,748

6,631

17,379

 

             NE US Monitoring Area

-

-

-

150,519

  Gulf of Mexico (April 1 - May 31, 2020)

0

0

0

 

            Areas Outside the Spring GOM Monitoring Area

0

0

0

 

            Spring GOM Monitoring Area

0

0

0

63,150

(-) Denotes confidential data with less than three vessels consistent with MSA requirements

* Denotes the amount (lb) of bluefin tuna that can be caught (landings and dead discards) during each monitoring area period before the monitoring area is closed, as established in the final rule.

 

2021

Longline Category Regional BFT Catch in Pounds Whole Weight (Not Including NED)

Landings

Discards

Total

Monitoring Area Threshold*

  Atlantic (June 1- 30, 2021)

39,085

8,479

47,564

 

            Areas Outside the NE Monitoring Area

22,479

7,434

29,913

 

            NE US Monitoring Area

16,606

1,045

17,651

150,519

  Gulf of Mexico (April 1 - May 31, 2021)

6,518

845

7,363

 

            Areas Outside the Spring GOM Monitoring Area 

6,518

845

7,363

 

            Spring GOM Monitoring Area

0

0

0

63,150

(-) Denotes confidential data with less than three vessels consistent with MSA requirements

* Denotes the amount (lb) of bluefin tuna that can be caught (landings and dead discards) during each monitoring area period before the monitoring area is closed, as established in the final rule.

Last updated by Office of Sustainable Fisheries on 09/14/2021

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna