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Bluefin Tuna Regulations Updated
Monday, May 5, 2014

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Angling Category Fishery: Recreational Daily Retention Limit Adjustment

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is adjusting the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) daily retention limits that apply to vessels permitted in the Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category (when fishing recreationally for BFT) effective May 8 through December 31, 2014, as follows:

1 school BFT (27 to <47") and
1 large school/small medium BFT (47 to <73")

HMS Charter/Headboat (when fishing recreationally for BFT)

2 school BFT (27 to <47") and
1 large school/small medium BFT (47 to <73")

Based on current considerations of the available quota, fishery performance in recent years, and the availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, NMFS has determined that the Angling category retention limits applicable to both private vessels (i.e., those with HMS Angling category permits) and to HMS Charter/Headboat category vessels (when fishing recreationally) should be adjusted from the default level of 1 school, large school, or small medium BFT (27 to <73"). NMFS considers that implementation of separate limits for private and charter/headboat vessels is appropriate, recognizing the different nature, socio-economic needs, and recent landings results of the two components of the recreational BFT fishery.

NMFS takes these actions to be consistent with the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan and to prevent overharvest of the 2014 Angling category quota. In taking this action, NMFS considered the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments, including available quota, fishery performance in recent years, and the availability of BFT on the fishing grounds.

NMFS anticipates that these BFT daily retention limits will result in landings during 2014 that would not exceed the available Angling category subquotas (as codified in 2011). NMFS will monitor 2014 landings closely and will make further Angling category adjustments via inseason action, including closure, if warranted.

The BFT daily retention limit adjustment affects only the recreational BFT fishery. The daily retention limits are effective for all areas except the Gulf of Mexico, the designated spawning grounds for BFT and where NMFS prohibits targeted fishing. Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip, the daily retention limit applies upon landing.

Anglers are reminded that an annual limit of one large medium or giant BFT (i.e., "trophy" BFT) per vessel also applies when the Angling category trophy BFT fishery is open. NMFS closed the Angling category trophy BFT fishery for the southern area (south of 39°18' N. lat., including the Gulf of Mexico) effective April 11, 2014, through December 31, 2014. The Angling category trophy fishery for the northern area (north of 39°18' N. lat.) remains open at this time. These annual retention limits apply to HMS Angling and HMS Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels (when fishing recreationally for BFT).

Anglers may catch and release or tag and release BFT of all sizes, subject to the requirements of the HMS catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs at § 635.26. Anglers are also reminded that all BFT that are released must be handled in a manner that will maximize survival, and without removing the fish from the water, consistent with requirements at § 635.21(a)(1). For additional information on safe handling, see the "Careful Catch and Release" brochure available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/.

This notice is a courtesy to BFT fishery permit holders to help keep you informed about the fishery. For additional information, call (888) 872-8862 or (978) 281-9260, or go to hmspermits.noaa.gov. Official notice of Federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.

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