Atlantic Bluefin Tuna and Northern Albacore Quotas and Minor Change in Atlantic Tuna Size Limit

September 27, 2018

The final rule adjusts the baseline annual U.S. quota and subquotas for Atlantic bluefin tuna and North Atlantic albacore quota have been adjusted and modifies size limit regulations for bigeye and yellowfin tunas.

Sarah McLaughlin
Fishery Management Specialist
978-281-9260
sarah.mclaughlin@noaa.gov
bluefin tuna school.jpg

Specifically for 2018, NOAA Fisheries is adjusting the bluefin tuna Reserve category quota and the northern albacore baseline quota to account for available underharvest from 2017. The 2018 Purse Seine and Reserve category quotas announced earlier this year will also be recalculated.

Bluefin Tuna Quota

The final rule increases the baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota from 1,058.79 to 1,247.86 metric tons (mt), the level recommended for 2018 through 2020 by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) at its 2017 annual meeting. See the table below for the final baseline Atlantic bluefin tuna quotas. 

Northern Albacore Quota

The final rule increases the baseline annual U.S. northern albacore quota from 527 to 632.4 mt, the ICCAT-recommended level for 2018 through 2020.

Yellowfin and Big Eye Size Limit Regulations

To address bigeye and yellowfin tuna damaged through predation by sharks and other marine species, NOAA Fisheries made a minor change to the regulations. This change allows retention, possession, and landing of yellowfin and bigeye tuna for which a measurement to the fork of the tail may not be possible because the tail has been partially or entirely bitten off, provided that the remainder of the fish meets the current minimum size (e.g., 27 inches for yellowfin and bigeye tuna). To preserve evidence for enforcement purposes, the regulatory text specifies that no tissue may be cut away from or other alterations made to the predator-damaged area of the fish while aboard a vessel. 

2018 Purse Seine and Reserve Quotas

The 2018 adjusted northern albacore quota is 764.15 mt (baseline quota of 632.4 mt + underharvest carryover of 131.75 mt). The 2018 adjusted U.S. bluefin tuna quota is 1,381.24 mt (baseline quota of 1,272.86 mt + the 2017 underharvest carryover of 108.38 mt). Because the U.S. baseline quota and subquotas are increasing via this action, NOAA Fisheries has also recalculated the 2018 Purse Seine and Reserve category quotas that were announced earlier this year. Adjusted for the quota increase, 55 mt are available for Purse Seine category participants in 2018. The adjusted 2018 Reserve category quota as of filing of this action is: 24.8 mt (baseline) + 4.7 mt (ICCAT quota increase to baseline) - 144.5 (quota transfers) + 164.5 mt (Purse Seine adjustment) + 108.38 mt (underharvest carryover) = 157.9 mt. 

This action is necessary to implement ICCAT recommendations pursuant to the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act and to achieve domestic management objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. More information can be found in the final rule and supporting documents

 

Final annual Atlantic bluefin tuna quotas (in metric tons)

Category

Quota

Subquotas

 

 

General

555.7

 

 

 

 

 

January-March1

29.5

 

 

 

June-August

277.9

 

 

 

September

147.3

 

 

 

October-November

72.2

 

 

 

December

28.9

 

Harpoon

46.0

 

 

 

Longline

163.6

 

 

 

Trap

1.2

 

 

 

Purse Seine

219.52

 

 

 

Angling

232.4

 

 

 

 

 

School

127.3

 

 

 

     Reserve

 

23.5

 

 

     North of 39°18′ N. lat.

 

49.0

 

 

     South of 39°18′ N. lat.

 

54.8

 

 

Large School/Small Medium

99.8

 

 

 

     North of 39°18′ N. lat.

 

47.1

 

 

     South of 39°18′ N. lat.

 

52.7

 

 

Trophy

5.3

 

 

 

     North of 39°18′ N. lat.

 

1.8

 

 

     South of 39°18′ N. lat.

 

1.8

 

 

     Gulf of Mexico

 

1.8

Reserve

29.52

 

 

 

U.S. Baseline Quota

1,247.863

 

 

 

Total U.S. Quota, including 25 mt for NED (Longline)

1,272.863

 

 

 

 

1 This subquota is referred to as the "January" subquota in the regulations but is in effect from January 1 through the effective date of a closure notice filed by NOAA Fisheries in the Federal Register announcing that the subquota is reached or projected to be reached, or through March 31, whichever comes first.

2 Baseline amount shown does not reflect the annual adjustment process (for the Purse Seine and Reserve category quotas) adopted in Amendment 7.

3 Totals subject to rounding error.

Last updated by Office of Sustainable Fisheries on October 11, 2018