The National Marine Fisheries Service has decided to close the General category fishery for large, medium, and giant Atlantic bluefin tuna for the rest of the year. The closure takes effect 11:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday Dec. 6, 2017 and remains in place through Dec. 31, 2017.
The quota for this particular fishery has been adjusted by NMFS three times during 2017 with quota transfers from other fisheries. Most recently, 25.6 mt were transferred from the Harpoon category to the General category Dec. 1, 2017, resulting in a greater quota. NMFS, however, has determined that the category’s quota has been reached and fishing must cease.
Retaining, possessing, or landing large medium or giant bluefin tuna in the Atlantic will no longer be allowed by persons aboard vessels permitted in General and HMS Charter/Headboat (while fishing commercially) categories. The closure is intended to prevent overharvest of a valuable species.
The General category for Atlantic bluefin tuna will reopen at the beginning of 2018 for the January through March subperiod.
Fishermen may continue to catch and release (or tag and release) bluefin tuna of all sizes, in accordance with NMFS handling regulations that maximizes the fish’s survival and does not remove it from the water.