Bluefin Tuna Angling Category Southern Area Trophy Fishery Closure
Just one day after the General Category closure, NMFS announced that on February 12, 2022, at 11:30 pm through December 31, 2022, the Southern Area Trophy Bluefin Fishery will be closed to angling. The southern area is the area south of 39°18’N lat. (off Great Egg Inlet, NJ), outside the Gulf of Mexico. This closure applies to fishermen aboard Atlantic HMS Angling category and Atlantic HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels (when fishing recreationally).
The Southern Area will close based on the best available landings information, that the 1.8-mt Angling category southern area “trophy” bluefin tuna (measuring 73 inches or greater) subquota will be reached shortly.
Note that the Angling category fishery for school, large school, or small-medium bluefin tuna (27 to <73”) remains open in all areas except for the Gulf of Mexico, which is designated as bluefin tuna spawning grounds and where NOAA Fisheries does not allow targeted fishing for bluefin tuna.
Bluefin Tuna General Category Fishery Closure
As of 11:30 p.m., on February 11, 2022, fishermen aboard vessels with an Atlantic Tunas General or Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category permit (with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for bluefin tuna) may not retain, possess, or land medium (135 – <235lbs), large (235 – <310 lbs), or giant (>350 lbs) Atlantic bluefin tuna.
Unlike the Southern Area Trophy Bluefin Fishery Angling Category which is closed for the rest of the calendar year, the General category bluefin tuna fishery will reopen on June 1, 2022, with the default daily/trip retention limit of one fish per vessel.
Based on the best available landings information, NMFS determined the 75-mt quota available for the January through March time period will be reached.