About the Species
U.S. wild-caught blueline tilefish is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.
In the Mid-Atlantic, the status is unknown. In the South Atlantic, the status is above target levels. In the Gulf of Mexico, blueline tilefish are managed as part of the tilefish complex and the status of this complex is unknown.
In the Mid-Atlantic, the status is unknown. At recommended levels in the South Atlantic. In the Gulf of Mexico, the tilefish complex is not subject to overfishing based on 2016 catch data.
Fishing gears used to harvest blueline tilefish have minimal impacts on habitat.
Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch.
- According to the 2017 stock assessment, the population status of blueline tilefish in the Mid-Atlantic is unknown.
- According to the 2017 stock assessment, the South Atlantic stock is not overfished and is not subject to overfishing. Regulations implemented by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to reduce harvest of the stock in the South Atlantic have been effective at reducing overfishing.
- In the Gulf of Mexico, blueline tilefish are managed as part of the tilefish complex. This complex is not subject to overfishing based on 2016 catch data. According to the 2011 stock assessment, the population status of blueline tilefish in the Gulf of Mexico is unknown.
- Blueline tilefish get their name from a narrow gold stripe underlined in blue that runs from their snout to the tip of their eye.
- They have a long snout and are a dull olive-gray on the top of their body and white on the bottom.
- They have long, continuous dorsal and anal fins that are more than half the length of their body.
- Unlike golden tilefish, they do not have a large adipose flap (crest) on their head.
- Blueline tilefish can grow to be 35 inches long and live up to 26 years.
- Males can grow larger than females.
- Female blueline tilefish mature when they are about 3 years old.
- They can spawn year-round, but peak spawning is in May. Spawning primarily occurs at night.
- Females can lay more than 4 million free-floating eggs.
- Blueline tilefish feed primarily on invertebrates that live near the sea floor, such as crabs, shrimp, snails, worms, sea urchins, and small fish.
- Recent genetic studies suggest that the U.S. Atlantic population of blueline tilefish is continuous from the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, around the Florida Keys, and up through the Mid-Atlantic region.
Where They Live
- Blueline tilefish are commonly found in the western Atlantic from Campeche, Mexico, to Hudson Canyon, off the coast of Maryland, including the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
- There are reports of catches as far north as Maine and as far west as Texas.
- The Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils develop management measures for the blueline tilefish fisheries in their respective jurisdictions. NOAA Fisheries is responsible for implementing and enforcing these measures.
- NOAA Fisheries is implementing management measures developed by the Mid-Atlantic Council for blueline tilefish off the Mid-Atlantic as part of its Tilefish Fishery Management Plan.
- Harvest levels have increased in the Mid-Atlantic in recent years, and there has been no federal fishery management plan for this species in this region.
- The Mid-Atlantic Tilefish Fishery Management Plan measures for blueline tilefish include:
- Permit requirements for commercial and for-hire vessels.
- Annual catch limits for the commercial and recreational fisheries.
- Limits on commercial possession. The fishery is closed if the landing limit is harvested.
- Closed season and bag limit for recreational anglers.
- The South Atlantic Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan measures for blueline tilefish include:
- Permit requirements.
- Annual catch limits.
- Limits on the number or pounds of blueline tilefish commercial and recreational fishermen may harvest during a fishing trip.
- Prohibition of longline gear in certain areas to protect snapper-grouper species and live-bottom habitat.
- For more information on current management, see the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office’s South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper page.
- The Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan blueline tilefish measures include:
- Annual catch limits for both the commercial and recreational fisheries.
- An Individual Fishing Quota program for the commercial fishery.
- Restrictions on the seasons, areas, and depths where longlines can be used, to protect reef fish, sea turtles, and bottom habitat.
- For more information on current management, see the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office’s Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish page.