The Angling Category for trophy Atlantic bluefin tuna in the Southern Area (the area south of Great Egg Inlet, New Jersey, 39°18’N lat) has already reached its 1.8 mt subquota, effectively and immediately closing it for the remainder of 2020. This means that no vessels with recreational Atlantic HMS Angling or Charter/Headboat permits may retain, possess, or land Atlantic bluefin tuna greater than 73 inches until 2021. Anglers may still land, possess, and retain bluefin tuna that are at least 27 inches, but less than 73 inches, in this area. Catch and release, as well as tag and release, fishing for bluefin tuna of all sizes is still permitted in the now-closed Southern Area, so long as the fish are handled in a manner that will maximize survivability and are not removed from the water.
This closure comes almost a month earlier this year than last, as the fishery remained open in 2019 through until March 14th. The Southern Area quota has not changed, as the Angling category was afforded only 1.8 mt of bluefin tuna in 2019 as well as 2020.The Northern Area (the area north of Great Egg Inlet, New Jersey, 39°18’N lat) is still open to bluefin landings in 2020. The Northern Area closed for 2019 in late July of 2019. It remains to be seen if it will also meet or exceed its quota earlier this year as well.
Please note these quotas do not apply to the Gulf of Mexico Area, where all bluefin targeting is illegal due to the importance of the region for spawning.