NOAA Fisheries closes the Atlantic bluefin tuna Angling Category (recreational) fishery for large medium and giant “trophy” bluefin tuna (measuring 73” curved fork length or greater) in the northern area effective 11:30 p.m. local time, Thursday, July 26, 2018, through December 31, 2018. This applies to vessels permitted in the Highly Migratory Species Angling Category and the Highly Migratory Species charter/headboat category (when fishing recreationally). The northern area is the area north of 39°18’N (off Great Egg Inlet, NJ).
Note that the Angling Category fishery for school, large school, or small-medium bluefin tuna (27 to <73”) remains open in all areas except for the Gulf of Mexico, which is designated as bluefin tuna spawning grounds and where NOAA Fisheries does not allow targeted fishing for bluefin tuna.
Based on reported landings of 1.8 mt from the NOAA Fisheries Automated Catch Reporting System as of July 23, 2018, NOAA Fisheries has determined that the codified Angling Category northern area trophy bluefin tuna subquota has been reached and exceeded and that the trophy fishery should be closed in that area. The intent of this closure is to prevent further overharvest of the Angling Category northern area trophy bluefin tuna subquota. NOAA Fisheries closed the 2018 Angling Category trophy fishery for the southern area and Gulf of Mexico effective March 17 and May 13, respectively. Therefore, as of July 26, 2018, the angling category trophy bluefin tuna fishery will be closed in all areas for 2018. Catch-and-release fishing is permissible as described below.
Who is affected?
This closure applies to vessels permitted in the Highly Migratory Species Angling Category and the Highly Migratory Species Charter/Headboat Category fishing in the northern area (defined in bold above). Fishermen may catch and release or tag and release bluefin tuna of all sizes, subject to the requirements of Highly Migratory Species catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs. NOAA Fisheries regulations require that all bluefin tuna that are released be handled in a manner that will maximize their survival, and without removing the fish from the water. For additional information on safe handling, see the Careful Catch and Release brochure.
Highly Migratory Species Charter/Headboat and Angling 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 Highly Migratory Species Catch Reporting App, or calling (888) 872-8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.).
For more information on bluefin tuna fishing regulations, including recreational size and retention limits, please go to the HMS Permit Shop or call (978) 281-9260. Official notice of federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.