This action is intended to provide a reasonable opportunity to harvest the full annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota without exceeding it, while maintaining an equitable distribution of fishing opportunities across time periods. In addition, it will help achieve optimum yield in the bluefin tuna fishery and optimize the ability of all permit categories to harvest their full bluefin tuna quota allocations.
NOAA Fisheries recently published a final “quota rule” that increased the baseline U.S. bluefin tuna quota and accordingly increased the subquotas for 2018, including an increase in the General category October through November. On October 4, 2018, NOAA Fisheries transferred 55 metric tons to the General category and closed the fishery. Since October 5, 2018, NOAA Fisheries has reopened the October through November subquota period two separate times for multiple days in an attempt to allow the available quota to be harvested.
As of November 6, 2018, reports show that the October through November landings are still less than the available subquota of 127.2 mt. Based on landings rates, NOAA Fisheries has determined that reopening the General category fishery for five days is appropriate.
Therefore, the General category fishery will reopen at 12:30 a.m., November 12, 2018, and close at 11:30 p.m., November 16, 2018. The General category daily retention limit during this reopening is one large medium or giant bluefin tuna per vessel per day/trip.
NOAA Fisheries anticipates that General category participants in all areas and time periods will have opportunities to harvest the General category quota in 2018, including the December time period. The General category will reopen automatically on December 1, 2018, at the default one-fish level. Based on quota availability in the Reserve, NOAA Fisheries may consider transferring additional quota to the December subquota period.
Who is affected?
Persons aboard vessels permitted in the Atlantic tunas General and Atlantic HMS Charter/Headboat categories may not retain, possess, or land large-medium or giant Atlantic bluefin tuna after 11:30 p.m. on November 16, 2018, through November 30, 2018.
This action applies to General category (commercial) permitted vessels and to Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for bluefin tuna.
Dealers are required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer receiving bluefin tuna. Late dealer reporting compromises NOAA Fisheries’ ability to implement actions such as quota and retention limit adjustments or fishery closures and may result in enforcement actions.
Additionally, and separate from the dealer reporting requirement, General category and HMS Charter/ Headboat category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all bluefin tuna retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing the HMS Permit Shop, using the HMS Catch Reporting app, or calling (888) 872-8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.).
All bluefin tuna that are released must be handled in a manner that will maximize survivability and without removing the fish from the water. Download the Careful Catch and Release brochure for more safe handling tips.