The Atlantic bluefin tuna quota General category fishery will reopen for two days within the October through November subquota period, effective 12:30 a.m., October 15 through 11:30 p.m., October 16, 2018. 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 from 1,058.79 mt to 1,247.86 mt and accordingly increased the subquotas for 2018, including an increase in the General category October through November period subquota from 60.7 mt to 70.2 mt. On October 4, 2018, NOAA Fisheries transferred 55 mt to the General category and closed the General category fishery effective October 5, 2018, based on projections that landings would meet or exceed the adjusted October through November subquota of 127.2 mt by that date.
As of October 11, 2018, reported data show that the General category landed 81.8 mt before closing. This represents 64 percent of the adjusted October through November subquota. NOAA Fisheries has determined that reopening the General category fishery for two days is appropriate given the amount of unused October through November subquota remaining (i.e., 45.4 mt).
Therefore, the General category fishery will reopen at 12:30 a.m., October 15, 2018, and close at 11:30 p.m., October 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.
More information can be found in the Federal Register notice.
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 October 16, 2018, through November 30, 2018.
This action applies to General category (commercial) permitted vessels and to HMS 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.
This notice is a courtesy to bluefin tuna fishery permit holders to help keep you informed about the fishery. For additional information, call 978-281-9260, or go to the HMS Permit Shop. Official notice of Federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.