The National Marine Fisheries Service this week released its fourth quarter update on 2017 recreational billfish landings, rounding out landing estimates for the year.
These landing numbers come from a variety of sources including self-reported angler reports from the Highly Migratory Species (HMS) non-Tournament Recreational Swordfish and Billfish Landings Database, as well as tournament landings from the Atlantic Tournament Registration and Reporting system, catch card reports from North Carolina and Maryland, and individual billfish intercepted by the Large Pelagic Survey and Marine Recreational Information Program. Estimates may change due to late reporting.
The U.S. recreational billfish fishery is limited to a total landing of 250 individuals of Atlantic blue marlin, Atlantic white marlin, and Atlantic roundscale spearfish, combined. Western Atlantic sailfish are not included in this limit. The total number of these billfish landed and reported in 2017 is 125, just half of the amount allotted. Throughout 2017, NMFS reports landings of 58 Atlantic blue marlin (down from the 87 reported in 2016), 61 Atlantic white marlin (60 in 2016), and six roundscale spearfish (down from the 22 reported in 2016). There are 125 individuals remaining in the landings limit from 2017, a safe buffer for those billfish landed but unreported.