The Gear Restricted Area (GRA) off Cape Hatteras implemented to reduce bluefin tuna bycatch by pelagic longline vessels now is open to the gear. The waters had been closed December through April, but the NMFS decided it is no longer needed under the Individual Bluefin tuna Quota (IBQ) management system.
Two Gulf of Mexico Gear Restricted Areas closed during April and May since 2015 and the Northeastern Closed Area off of New Jersey closed during June since 1999, are now pelagic longline Monitoring Areas, allowing longlining to resume. Fishing is to be monitored for three years based on vessel’s reported bluefin tuna landing and discard tonnage. A threshold tonnage level is set, if continued longline fishing requires use of extra tonnage, fishing will be stopped.