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TIer 1 and Tier 2 Longfin Squid and Butterfish Moratorium Permit Changes

December 13, 2018

New longfin squid and butterfish moratorium permits become effective on March 1, 2019.

We approved Amendment 20 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan. This action revises the current longfin squid/butterfish moratorium permit and longfin squid possession limits to preserve fishing opportunities for more recently active participants in the fishery and avoid overharvesting the Trimester II longfin squid quota. 

This bulletin provides a summary of approved measures. More detailed information can be found in the Amendment 20 final rule and on our Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish web page.

Changes to Longfin Squid/Butterfish Moratorium Permits and Possession Limits

Amendment 20 separates the current longfin squid/butterfish moratorium permit (SMB1) into two separate permits and creates a tiered permit system for longfin squid moratorium permits based on recent landings history, as described further below. All vessels that are currently issued a SMB1 permit will automatically be issued a new, separate butterfish moratorium permit.  

New longfin squid and butterfish moratorium permits become effective on March 1, 2019. The Regional Administrator will issue new permits to qualified vessels in February 2019 as part of the annual permit renewal process. Updated permits will then be reissued for the start of the new fishing year on May 1, 2019. Amendment 20 changes to longfin squid moratorium permits and possession limits are in bold in the table below.


Permit Category


Possession Limit When Directed Fishery Is Open

Possession Limit When Directed Fishery is Closed


Tier 1 Longfin  Squid Moratorium


2,500 lb longfin squid per trip in Trimesters I and III


250 lb longfin squid per trip in Trimester II


Tier 2 Longfin  Squid Moratorium

5,000 lb longfin squid per trip


Tier 3 Longfin Squid Incidental Moratorium

2,500 lb longfin squid per trip


Squid/Butterfish Incidental

250 lb longfin squid per trip
600 lb butterfish per trip


Butterfish Moratorium

Unlimited when fishing with at least 3-inch mesh

600 lb butterfish per trip

5,000 lb butterfish per trip when fishing less than 3-inch mesh


Tier 1 and Tier 2 Longfin Squid Moratorium Permit Qualification Criteria

Existing SMB1 permits that landed at least 10,000 lb of longfin squid in any year during 1997-2013 automatically qualify for a new Tier 1 longfin squid moratorium permit. Those permits that do not qualify for a Tier 1 permit will be issued a new Tier 2 longfin squid moratorium permit.

The Regional Administrator will use available dealer landings data to determine whether each 2018 SMB1 permit, including those currently held in confirmation of permit history (CPH), qualifies for either a new Tier 1 or Tier 2 longfin squid moratorium permit. 

Appeals Process

If your permit does not qualify for a Tier 1 permit and you are issued a Tier 2 permit instead, you may appeal that decision. The letter issuing your Tier 2 permit will provide detailed instructions about how to appeal for a Tier 1 permit. The appeal must be in writing and mailed to the Regional Administrator by March 30, 2019. It should include the reason for the appeal and evidence to support your claim. Evidence could include additional landings records, affidavits by dealers, vessel replacement or ownership change paperwork, and other evidence documenting that your vessel landed at least 10,000 lb of longfin squid in any year during 1997-2013.

During your appeal, you may request the Regional Administrator issue you a letter of authorization (LOA) to fish under the Tier 1 longfin squid possession limits instead of those for Tier 2 permits. A LOA is required your vessel to land an unlimited amount of longfin squid if the directed longfin squid fishery is open while your appeal is under review.

Each appeal will be reviewed by the National Appeals Office. The Regional Administrator will make the final decision on each appeal based on the decision of the National Appeals Office. If your appeal is denied, your LOA will be cancelled, and you will be limited to possessing up to 5,000 lb of longfin squid/trip. 

Vessel Replacement and Reporting Requirements

Amendment 20 does not change the existing permit baseline or replacement requirements associated with your current SMB1 permit. This means you will maintain your current vessel replacement baseline length overall and horsepower for both your new Tier 1 or 2 longfin squid moratorium (SMB1A or 1B) permit and your new butterfish moratorium (SMB6) permit. 

There are no new reporting requirements for either the new longfin squid or butterfish moratorium permits. You must continue to submit vessel trip reports (logbooks) on a weekly basis and daily catch reports via your vessel monitoring system (VMS) when you are fishing on a longfin squid trip. 

There is no separate VMS declaration requirement for butterfish trips. Continue to declare butterfish trips via VMS as you have done for previous trips. For example, if you intend to target butterfish, but expect to catch more than 2,500 lb of longfin squid, declare a longfin squid trip via VMS before you leave port. Alternatively, you can declare a “DOF-CML” (declared out of days-at-sea fisheries, commercial trip) trip via VMS if you do not expect to have more than an incidental bycatch of longfin squid, Illex squid, Atlantic mackerel, or another species with VMS declaration requirements.

Longfin Squid Moratorium Permit Swap

Amendment 20 allows the owner of multiple longfin squid vessels to swap a Tier 1 and Tier 2 longfin squid permit among vessels they own. To be eligible to swap permits, the following conditions apply:

  1. You must currently own both vessels;
  2. The owner of record for both vessels involved in the swap must be the same as the owner of record for both vessels as of May 26, 2017;
  3. Both the Tier 1 and Tier 2 permits must be issued to an active vessel (neither permit can be in CPH); and
  4. Vessels involved in the transfer must be within 10 percent of the baseline length overall and 20 percent of the baseline horsepower of the permit to be placed on each vessel.

If you are eligible to swap permits, you may only swap your Tier 1 and Tier 2 permits once. No other fishery permits (e.g., scallop, scup, etc.) may be transferred in the process. To swap your longfin squid permits, complete the enclosed application and send it to the Regional Administrator at the address listed before February 29, 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Amendment 20 necessary?

Tiered longfin squid moratorium permits provide greater fishery access to vessels that have been more active in the fishery in recent years and reduce the potential for unused permits to reactivate, which could lead to excessive fishing and the early closure of the directed fishery. Reduced longfin squid incidental possession limits better control the fishery and minimize the likelihood that excessive catch will exceed the Trimester II quota. Creating a separate butterfish moratorium permit preserves the domestic fishing capacity for butterfish.

How were the longfin squid qualification criteria selected?

The qualification years reflect the initial issuance of the original longfin squid/butterfish moratorium permit through the 2013 control date identified by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council for this action. The landing criteria reflect a minimum amount of fishing activity considered necessary to document recent participation in the fishery (four trips landing an incidental amount of longfin squid).

Can I check dealer landings data for my vessel?

Yes. You can request landings data from us for any period of time during which you owned the vessel, or for any period of time if the prior owner authorized you to access his/her confidential landings data. Data requests should be submitted via email to NMFS.GAR.Data.Requests@noaa.gov.

Did the Council revise Illex squid permits?

Not in this action. The Council considered re-qualifying existing Illex squid permits, but did not revise them in Amendment 20. The Council is working on a new action that may revise Illex permits and management measures for implementation in 2020, if adopted.


  • Permit applications or limited access program requirements: (978) 282-8438
  • Longfin squid permits, possession limits, or background on new measures: ​​​​​​(978) 281-9315.

Last updated by Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office on May 19, 2022