The Angling category fishery for trophy bluefin tuna in the southern area will close effective 11:30 p.m., February 20, 2020. The fishery will remain closed through December 31, 2020.
The southern area is the area south of 39°18’N lat. (off Great Egg Inlet, NJ), outside the Gulf of Mexico. Trophy bluefin tuna are those measure 73 inches or greater.
Why Is This Change Being Made?
Based on the best available landings information, NOAA Fisheries has determined that the Angling category southern area trophy bluefin tuna subquota of 1.8 mt has been reached and exceeded and, therefore, closure of the fishery is warranted.
Who Is Affected?
Individuals aboard vessels permitted in the Atlantic HMS Angling and Atlantic HMS Charter/Headboat permits fishing recreationally in the southern area (defined above) may not retain, possess, or land large medium or giant Atlantic bluefin tuna after 11:30 p.m. on February 20, 2020.
Note that the Angling category fishery for school, large school, or small medium bluefin tuna (27 to <73 inches) remains open in all areas except for the Gulf of Mexico, where NOAA Fisheries does not allow targeted fishing for bluefin tuna because it has been designated as a spawning ground.
Fishermen may also catch and release or tag and release bluefin tuna of all sizes, subject to the requirements of HMS catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs. All bluefin tuna that are released must be handled in a manner that will maximize survivability and without removing the fish from the water.
Angling category and HMS Charter/Headboat category permitted vessel owners are required to report the catch of all bluefin retained or discarded dead within 24 hours of landing or the end of each trip by: