NMFS proposes to modify the one-month closed zone off New Jersey and the spring two-month gear restricted area in the Gulf of Mexico to become Monitoring Zones with an annual allocation for pelagic longline vessels. If reported data indicates the allocation is close to being landed, the zones will be closed for the balance of the year. Accountability is the weak link, without an observer on board, billfish reporting is likely going to receive a low priority.
The Cape Hatteras Gear Restricted Area will be opened to pelagic longline fishing, again accountability on bycatch species caught, specifically billfish, will be crucial.
The required year-round use of “weak hooks” on all pelagic longline vessels in the Gulf of Mexico is proposed to be shortened to use only in January through June. Fewer bluefin tuna and blue marlin were hooked on the weak hooks, but greater numbers of white marlin were hooked. Bycatch monitoring will be crucial.
The Billfish Foundation will submit comments before the September 31st deadline and share them so you can reference them and submit your own. To submit your comments beforehand please be sure to write in the subject line – “NOAA-NMFS-2018-0035,” and them submit them electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal or sent by mail to
Highly Migratory Species Management Division
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 2091
Sign up for free TBF Monthly E’News to stay up to date.