Notice to Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Commercial Handgear Fisheries on Retention Limits Starting June 1

May 13, 2020

The default Atlantic bluefin tuna daily retention limits will be in effect June 1, 2020.  These limits will remain in effect until amended by NOAA Fisheries, as warranted.  

NOAA Fisheries is announcing that the following default Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) daily retention limits will be in effect June 1, 2020.  These limits will remain in effect until amended by NOAA Fisheries, as warranted.  

  • General category: One large medium or giant BFT (measuring 73” or greater) per vessel per day/trip. 
  • Harpoon category:  Two large medium BFT per vessel per day/trip. There is no daily retention limit for giant BFT in the Harpoon category.

NOAA Fisheries encourages operators of vessels authorized to sell BFT to contact their local Atlantic tuna dealers before departing on a trip to determine if dealers are willing to purchase landed BFT. NOAA Fisheries is aware that some federally permitted Atlantic tunas dealers may not be planning to accept or buy BFT given uncertainty regarding current market conditions.

Who is Affected? 

The General category retention limit applies to General category permitted vessels and to HMS Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. It is effective for all areas except for the Gulf of Mexico, where NOAA Fisheries does not allow targeted fishing for BFT. Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip, the daily retention limit applies upon landing.

What Should I Do if a Fish Cannot be Sold? 

NOAA Fisheries requires BFT to be sold only to federally permitted Atlantic tunas dealers.

In the event that a fish cannot be sold, the vessel operator must contact NOAA Fisheries at 978-281-9213 immediately upon landing the BFT and, if requested, make the fish available to enforcement for tagging. Alternatively, the vessel operator can request that an Atlantic tunas dealer tag the BFT and then report it as being “landed but not sold,” but this is solely at the dealer’s discretion. All BFT landed but not sold will be applied to the quota category according to the permit of the vessel from which it was landed.

Catch Reporting

NOAA Fisheries will actively monitor the BFT fisheries. Dealers are required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer receiving BFT. Late reporting by dealers compromises our ability to timely implement actions such as quota and retention limit adjustments, as well as closures, and may result in enforcement actions.

In addition to the above, vessel owners are required to report their own catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead within 24 hours of the landing(s) or the end of each trip by:

  • Accessing the HMS Permit Shop.
  • Using the HMS Catch Reporting App.
  • Calling 888-872-8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.).

NOAA Fisheries will closely monitor catch rates associated with the various authorized gear types (e.g., harpoon, rod and reel) during the General category June–August period and actively adjust the daily retention limit as appropriate to enhance scientific data collection from, and ensure fishing opportunities in, all respective time-period subquotas and to ensure available quota is not exceeded.

NOAA Fisheries regulations require that all BFT that are released be handled in a manner that will maximize survivability and without removing the fish from the water. For additional information on safe handling, see the Careful Catch and Release brochure.

Last updated by Office of Sustainable Fisheries on September 03, 2020

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna