Restrictions on Bluefin Tuna

Changes to Bluefin Tuna Commercial Handgear Fishery

Restrictions on Bluefin TunaEffective as of July 1st, all Atlantic Tunas General category permit holders, as well as Highly Migratory Species Charter/Headboat permit holders commercially fishing for bluefin tunas will encounter restricted fishing days. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has stated every Sunday, Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday from July 1 through November 30, 2024 will now be a restricted-fishing day. Recreational vessels focusing on Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) will not be affected by these changes. 

So what is a restricted fishing day? Essentially, on said days, Atlantic Tunas General category permitted vessels are prohibited from retaining, landing, possessing, or selling bluefin tuna of any size class. This also applies to catch and release and even tagging efforts. This restriction does not apply to other tuna species that fall within the General category. As for HMS Charter/Head boats, these permitted vessels are prohibited from landing or even fishing for bluefin tuna. Under HMS Angling category rules however, said vessels can retain, land, or possess bluefin tuna. 

With regards to dealers on restricted days, all those with an Atlantic Tunas General category permit or a Highly Migratory Species Charter/Headboat permit (with a commercial sale endorsement) cannot sell, land or even transfer a bluefin tuna, regardless of the date a vessel returns to the dock. If a bluefin is caught during a restricted day, it must still be reported, even if the fish is unable to be sold. As per NOAA’s recommendations, it has been suggested that all vessels who fall within the categories mentioned above contact the dealers prior to fishing to ensure caught fish are able to be sold.