Important Information for Atlantic Tunas Longline Permit Holders

December 12, 2017

NOAA Fisheries reminds Atlantic tunas longline permit holders about the individual bluefin quota program and the transition from 2017 to 2018.

School of Atlantic bluefin tuna

What Happens to 2017 Quota Debt and IBQ Allocation at the end of 2017?

2017 Quota Debt: Any outstanding quota debt from 2017 will carry over to 2018. 

As of January 1, 2018, a vessel will not be allowed to fish if there is outstanding quota debt associated with the permit.

If, by the end of 2017, a permit holder does not have adequate quota available (obtained through direct allocation or leasing) to settle their vessel’s quota debt, the vessel’s 2018 allocation will automatically be reduced in the amount equal to the 2017 quota debt until the quota debt is fully settled or the 2018 allocation has been fully used. 

2017 IBQ Allocation: Any IBQ allocation remaining in an account at the end of 2017 will not carry over to 2018. 

How do I resolve my quota debt prior to the end of 2017?

If a vessel account has quota debt (and insufficient IBQ allocation in their shareholder and/or vessel account to cover it), the permit holder must (a) transfer (lease) a sufficient amount of allocation into their vessel account (from a permitted longline vessel or a purse seine fishery participant) and (b) resolve the quota debt transaction(s) in the IBQ system online. 

Specifically, Atlantic (ATL) pelagic longline quota debt can be resolved using ATL allocation, Gulf of Mexico (GOM) pelagic longline allocation, or purse seine (PSG) allocation. GOM quota debt can only be resolved using GOM allocation. An IBQ shareholder can log into their shareholder account to resolve quota debt in their vessel account(s). From the main menu, go to Catches then Resolve Quota Debt Mid Year. Please consult page 31 of the “Individual Bluefin Quota (IBQ) Troubleshooting Guide” available through the online IBQ system (see ”Contact Information” at the bottom of this letter). For additional assistance you may call IBQ Customer Service at 301-427-8591 (8:00am to 5:00pm, Monday - Friday, excluding federal holidays).

For a fishing trip that begins in 2017 and ends in 2018, to what year is the catch attributed?

If a pelagic longline fishing trip begins in 2017 and ends in 2018 and lands bluefin tuna or discards dead bluefin in 2018, the catch will count against the vessel’s 2018 quota.

How much IBQ allocation will I have in 2018?

For 2018, the high (1.1968 percent), medium (0.5984 percent), and low share percentages (0.3690 percent) will be equivalent to 3,913 pounds, 1,956 pounds, and 1,206 pounds of annual allocation, respectively.

The annual quota allocation for 2018 will be dispersed to IBQ shareholders on January 1, 2018, if their Atlantic Tunas Longline category permit is associated with a vessel. Remember to renew your permit if it is going to expire soon. To determine the amount of IBQ available to you, log into your shareholder account online (select the BFT Shareholder role from the dropdown). NOAA Fisheries may subsequently transfer additional bluefin quota from the Reserve category to the Longline category, which could increase a shareholder’s overall allocation. 

In mid-2018, the U.S. bluefin quota and subquotas, including the Longline category quota, will increase as a result of the 2017 ICCAT recommendation to increase the bluefin Total Allowable Catch (TAC) from 2,000 metric tons to 2,350 metric tons.

A vessel with a valid Atlantic Tunas Longline permit, but is not an IBQ shareholder, may lease IBQ allocation from another vessel.

End of Year – No IBQ Transaction Period

No IBQ transactions may occur from 6 p.m. on December 31 to 2 p.m. on January 1 (Eastern Time).

This includes leases or transfers among vessel and shareholder accounts. NOAA Fisheries uses this time period for system maintenance, end-of-year accounting, and quota disbursement (i.e., annual “maintenance window”).

Bluefin landed  during the “maintenance window.” 

During the annual maintenance window, IBQ participants may still land bluefin and account for bluefin caught at the conclusion of that trip (with the dealer in the IBQ system), but the catch will count against the 2017 IBQ allocation, as mentioned above.

Other Information

The Electronic Monitoring (EM) requirements (video cameras, etc.) remain unchanged from 2017. Note:

  • You are required to maintain the working condition of your EM cameras. Please check/verify whether the lens of the camera has accumulated salt etc. that would compromise the quality of the video footage, and if that is the case clean the lens by wiping it with a clean, wet, soft cloth. If the image on the monitor appears blurry, and is not corrected by cleaning the lens, please call Saltwater, Inc., as the problem may be caused by a damaged camera housing or a flooded lens. 

  • You are required to mail the hard drives at the end of each trip (monthly mailing of hard drives does not comply with the requirements). Please contact the HMS Management Division with questions about the requirements.

In the Online IBQ System

Please sign in, click on the tab called “my account,” and then click on the “update account” option, to add your email address and complete the two secret questions. Providing your email address will expedite NOAA Fisheries communication with you, and the secret questions will enhance the security of your IBQ accounts.

Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Reporting Requirements

You are reminded that vessels must submit through VMS a “Highly Migratory Species Bluefin Tuna Catch Report,” for each set. Specifically, such vessels must report the number of all bluefin discarded dead or retained (by standardized size ranges) within 12 hours of completion of each set (including reporting of zero bluefin on a set).

For More Information

 Individual Bluefin Quota Program

  • NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Catch Share Programs webpage. Select “additional information,” select BFT, and then find “Individual Bluefin Quota (IBQ) Troubleshooting Guide.”

  • IBQ Customer Service: (301) 427-8591 (8:00am to 5:00pm, Monday - Friday, excluding federal holidays).

 Electronic Monitoring

  • Technical Questions about Camera System: Saltwater, Inc.: (800) 770-3241

  • Hard Drive Mailing Procedures (PDF, 1 page) or call Earth Resources Technology, Inc. (ERT):
    (240) 393-4213

Pelagic Observer Program

  • (800) 858-0624

General Information about Pelagic Longline Regulations

For additional information, contact the HMS Management Division: 

  • Brad McHale or Thomas Warren: (978) 281-9260.

  • Craig Cockrell or Carrie Soltanoff: (301) 427-8503.

  • Jennifer Cudney: (727) 824-5399.