Reminder for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Commercial Handgear Fisheries

July 20, 2020

Find a buyer before you go fishing!

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus)

NOAA Fisheries encourages operators of vessels authorized to sell bluefin tuna to contact their local Atlantic tuna dealers before departing on a trip to determine if dealers are willing to purchase bluefin.  Some dealers may not accept or buy bluefin given uncertainty regarding current market conditions.

Who is affected? 

Individuals who fish commercially for bluefin tuna, including those with a Harpoon category, General category, or HMS Charter/Headboat category (with a commercial sale endorsement) permit.

Why should commercial bluefin fishermen locate a dealer before fishing?

NOAA Fisheries requires bluefin tuna to be sold only to Federally permitted Atlantic tunas dealers. NOAA Fisheries has become aware that some dealers are limiting their purchases of bluefin tuna due to market conditions, and that some fishermen have not been able to sell their catch.  To ensure that landed fish are fully utilized, NOAA Fisheries is encouraging commercial bluefin fishermen to locate a dealer that will purchase their fish prior to leaving for a fishing trip.

What should I do if a fish cannot be sold?

1) Whether a bluefin tuna is sold or not, vessel owners are required to report their entire catch of bluefin tuna retained or discarded, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip by one of the following methods.  A report confirmation number is provided upon successful reporting.

  • Reporting online via the HMS Permit Shop
  • Using the HMS Catch Reporting App on a smartphone or similar device
  • Calling 888-872-8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.).

2) In addition to the above, if a fish cannot be sold, the vessel operator MUST contact NOAA Fisheries at 978-281-9213 and report the fish immediately upon landing. If requested, the fish must be made available to enforcement for tagging. Alternatively, the vessel operator can request that an Atlantic tunas dealer tag the bluefin tuna and then report it as being “landed but not sold,” but this is solely at the dealer’s discretion. 

NOAA Fisheries regulations require that all bluefin tuna 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.

This notice is a courtesy to bluefin tuna fishery permit holders to help keep you informed about the fishery. Official notice of federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.

Last updated by Office of Sustainable Fisheries on July 20, 2020