NOAA Fisheries makes this adjustment after considering the regulatory determination criteria regarding in-season adjustments, which include considerations about the amount of available quota, effects of the action on the continuation of the fishery, availability of bluefin tuna on the fishing grounds, the value of information obtained from the fishery, and the effects of the adjustment on the stock and on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan and amendments. NOAA Fisheries also considered general input from the HMS Advisory Panel. This action should provide opportunities to harvest the available U.S. bluefin tuna quota without exceeding it, prevent overharvest of the 2018 General category quota, and collect a broad range of data for stock monitoring purposes. NOAA Fisheries anticipates that General category participants in all areas and time periods will have opportunities to harvest the General category quota in 2018, through more proactive in-season management such as retention limit adjustments and/or the timing and amount of quota transfers (based on consideration of the determination criteria regarding in-season adjustments), as practicable.
Who is affected?
This action applies to General category permitted vessels and to Highly Migratory Species Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for bluefin tuna. It is effective for all areas except for the Gulf of Mexico, which is designated as bluefin tuna spawning grounds and where NOAA Fisheries does not allow targeted fishing for bluefin tuna. Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip, the daily retention limit applies upon landing. For example, whether a vessel fishing under the General category limit takes a two-day trip or makes two trips in one day, the daily limit of three fish may not be exceeded upon landing.
NOAA Fisheries will actively monitor the bluefin tuna fisheries closely. Dealers are required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer receiving bluefin tuna. In addition, General category and HMS Charter/Headboat category vessel owners are required to report their own catch of all bluefin tuna retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing the Highly Migratory Species Permit Shop, using the Highly Migratory Species Catch Reporting App, or calling (888) 872-8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.). NOAA Fisheries will closely monitor General category catch rates associated with the various authorized gear types (e.g., harpoon, rod and reel) during the June through August period and actively adjust the daily retention limit as appropriate to enhance scientific data collection from, and ensure fishing opportunities in all respective time-period sub-quotas as well as ensure available quota is not exceeded.
NOAA Fisheries regulations at 50 CFR 635.21(a)(1) require that all bluefin tuna that are released be handled in a manner that will maximize survivability, and without removing the fish from the water. For additional information on safe handling, see the Careful Catch and Release brochure.
This notice is a courtesy to BFT fishery permit holders to help keep you informed about the fishery. For additional information, call (978) 281-9260, or go to the Highly Migratory Species Permit Shop. Official notice of federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.