The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) closes the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) General category fishery for large medium and giant BFT (measuring 73 inches curved fork length or greater) effective 11:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday, March 29, 2017, until it reopens on June 1, 2017, for the June through August period. Based on the best available BFT landings information for the General category BFT fishery, NMFS has determined that the adjusted January subquota of 81 mt has been reached and that a closure is warranted at this time. Although it is called the "January" subquota, the regulations allow the General category fishery under this quota to continue until the subquota is reached or March 31, whichever comes first.
Retaining, possessing, or landing large medium or giant BFT by persons aboard vessels permitted in the Atlantic tunas General and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/ Headboat categories (when fishing commercially) must cease at 11:30 p.m. local time on March 29, 2017, through May 31, 2017. The intent of this closure is to prevent any further overharvest of the General category January BFT subquota. Catch-and-release fishing is permissible as described below.
Who is affected?
This action applies to vessels permitted in the commercial Atlantic tunas General category and the Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category while fishing commercially. For more information on BFT fishing regulations, including recreational size and retention limits, please go to hmspermits.noaa.gov.
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 on safe handling, see the "Careful Catch and Release" brochure available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/. General category, HMS Charter/Headboat, Harpoon, 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 hmspermits.noaa.gov or by using the Android or iPhone app.
This notice is a courtesy to BFT fishery permit holders to help keep you informed about the fishery. For additional information, please go to hmspermits.noaa.gov or call (978) 281-9260. Official notice of Federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.