Southern Area Bluefin Tuna Trophy Fishery Closes June 7 for Anglers

NOAA closes the Atlantic bluefin tuna Angling category for large medium and trophy bluefin through December 31, 2015

bft strike noaa

bft strike noaa

Courtesy NOAA Fisheries (Gilbert Van Ryckevorsel/TAG A Giant)

Reported landings from the NMFS Automated Catch Reporting System and the North Carolina Tagging Program total approximately 2 metric tons and NMFS has determined that the codified Angling category southern area trophy BFT subquota has been reached and that a closure of the southern area trophy BFT fishery is warranted at this time. Retaining, possessing, or landing large medium or giant BFT south of 39°18’ N. latitude and outside the Gulf of Mexico by persons aboard vessels permitted in the HMS Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category (when fishing recreationally) must cease at 11:30 p.m. local time on June 7, 2015. The intent of this closure is to prevent any further overharvest of the Angling category southern area trophy BFT subquota. The annual Angling category trophy limit of one large medium or giant BFT per vessel remains in effect for vessels fishing in the northern area and in the Gulf of Mexico area. The Angling category fishery for BFT measuring 27 to less than 73 inches is open except in the Gulf of Mexico. Catch-and-release fishing is permissible as described below.

NOAA Fisheries has considered the fact that it is in the process of proposing a rule that would implement and give domestic effect to the 2014 ICCAT recommendation on western Atlantic BFT management, which increased the U.S. BFT quota for 2015 and 2016 by 14 percent from the 2014 level. The domestic subquotas to be proposed in that action would result from application of the allocation process established in Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan to the increased U.S. quota, and would include an increase in the southern trophy BFT quota from the currently codified 1.3 mt to a total of 1.5 mt. However, because current landings exceed both the currently codified and the anticipated proposed quota for the Angling category southern area, closure of the southern area trophy BFT fishery needs to occur regardless of the proposed quota increase.

Fishermen may catch and release or tag and release BFT of all sizes, subject to the requirements of HMS catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs. NMFS regulations require that all BFT that are released be handled in a manner that will maximize their survival, and without removing the fish from the water.

For additional information, call (888) 872-8862 or (978) 281-9260, or go to hmspermits.noaa.gov.