NOAA Fisheries has officially adjusted the Atlantic bluefin tuna daily retention limits for vessels permitted in the Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category (when fishing recreationally for BFT) effective April 26.
For private HMS Angling category-permitted vessels, the adjusted retention limit is two school bluefin tuna (27 to less than 47 inches) and one large school/small medium bluefin (47 to less than 73 inches).
Those fishing with an HMS Charter/Headboat category permit when fishing recreationally, the adjusted retention limit is three school bluefin tuna (27 to less than 47 inches) and one large school/small medium bluefin (47 to less than 73 inches).
NOAA Fisheries will continue to monitor bluefin closely. HMS Charter/Headboat and Angling category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing the HMS Permit Shop (hmspermits.noaa.gov) using the HMS Catch Reporting App, or calling 888-872-8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.).
While the adjusted retention limit will carry through the end of 2018, depending on fishing effort and catch rates, additional retention limit adjustments or fishery closures may be necessary to ensure available quota is not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas.
The latest HMS update for anglers is good news as it’s an improvement over the previous regulations; the new rules also come at a good time as offshore fishermen prepare to meet the run of early season spring bluefin heading up from southern waters.