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Final Rule to Modify the Requirements for Federally-Permitted For-Hire Vessels Multi-Day Trip Possession Limits in the Gulf of Mexico

February 24, 2021

FB21-012: Gulf of Mexico Fishery Bulletin; For more information, contact: Rich Malinowski, 727-824-5305, rich.malinowski@noaa.gov


Fishermen on a charter vessel or headboat who take a trip lasting more than one day, also known as a multi-day trip, can retain a second daily bag or vessel limit as long as they follow specific procedures. 

This final rule modifies the on-board multi-day possession limit of fish species so that a second bag-limit can be retained at any time after the vessel leaves the dock for fishing trips that are greater than 30 hours in duration on qualifying vessels.  



The final rule will be effective on March 26, 2021.



  • The rule will increase the required trip duration to greater than 30 hours, but will allow anglers to retain the second daily bag limit at any time after the federally-permitted for-hire vessel leaves the dock.
  • The rule will also require the receipt issued to passengers specify the date and time of both the departure and return of the trip.
  • The entire trip must occur on days when the harvest and possession of the applicable reef fish species are allowed.
  • The possession of Gulf of Mexico cobia is limited to two per person per day regardless of the duration of a trip and this proposed rule would not revise the cobia possession limits.
  • Speckled hind and warsaw grouper have daily bag limits of one fish per vessel per day; therefore, the possession limit is two vessel limits, or two fish per vessel. 
  • The existing requirements will remain the same for the vessel to have two licensed operators aboard, and each passenger issued and have in possession a receipt issued on behalf of the vessel that verifies the length of the trip. 
  • For the purpose of the possession limit, the entire trip duration must coincide with an open fishing season for the applicable species. 
    • For example: if anglers on a federal for-hire vessel intend to retain the possession limit of red snapper, which has an open season beginning on June 1, the vessel cannot depart before 12:01 AM on June 1.
  • The rule is expected to promote efficiency in the utilization of reef fish and coastal migratory pelagic resources and a potential decrease in regulatory discards by providing the owners and operators of federally-permitted for-hire vessels greater flexibility in determining when to allow passengers to retain the possession limit on multi-day trips.


FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER: 86 FR 11155, published February 24, 2021.


This bulletin serves as a Small Entity Compliance Guide, complying with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.


Where can I find more information on Modifying the Requirements for Federally-Permitted For-Hire Vessels Multi-Day Trip Possession Limits in the Gulf of Mexico?

  • Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office

            By Mail: Rich Malinowski

NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office

Sustainable Fisheries Division

263 13th Avenue South

St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505

By FAX: (727) 824-5308

By Phone: (727) 824-5305


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Other contacts:

Media: Kim Amendola, 727-551-5707Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750 

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on February 24, 2021