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Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishing Tournaments

An Atlantic HMS tournament is defined as any fishing competition involving Atlantic HMS in which participants must register or otherwise enter, or in which a prize or award is offered for catching or landing HMS.  This includes fishing tournaments where the target species is not an Atlantic HMS, but where points, prizes, or awards are received for catching Atlantic HMS.  Tournaments may take place in ports within any Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico coastal state, as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and are required to register with the NMFS HMS Management Division.
(727) 824-5399


  • Registration
  • Registered Tournaments
  • Regulations
  • Catch Reporting

Atlantic HMS tournament operators are required to register their tournament with the HMS Management Division of NMFS at least four weeks prior to the start of the tournament.  The tournament operator is the person or entity responsible for maintaining records of participants and results used for awarding tournament points or prizes, regardless of whether fish are retained.

Atlantic HMS Tournament Registration Form [pdf]*

To register a tournament, an Atlantic HMS Tournament registration form must be completed, signed, and sent to the Atlantic HMS Management Division via one of the following:


Mailing Address:
HMS Tournament Registration
National Marine Fisheries Service
263 13th Avenue S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 824-5398

Upon receiving and processing the registration form, a unique Atlantic HMS tournament confirmation number will be produced and provided to the tournament operator.  Please note that registration is not complete unless the operator has received a confirmation number from the HMS Management Division of NMFS.

Registration Card

* iPad, iPhone, and Android tablet and phone users:
To open, fill, and e-mail these forms, you must use the Adobe Reader App:
iPad and iPhone: download the app (free) from iTunes
Android tablet and phone: download the app (free) from Google Play

List of registered tournaments:

If you are having trouble viewing this PDF, please try a different browser (Explorer/Firefox/Safari).

Operators: if your tournament is on the Atlantic HMS Registered Tournaments list, but you have not yet received your confirmation number, please contact the HMS Management Division at (727) 824-5399.  You must receive a confirmation number for your registration to be complete.

NMFS will notify tournament operators in writing if their tournament has been selected for catch reporting.


Official regulations can be found on the online Federal Register (e-CFR):
CFR Title 50 Part 635

Tournament Participants
To participate in a registered Atlantic HMS tournament, fishermen must have one of the following: (1) HMS Angling; (2) HMS Charter/Headboat; or (3) Atlantic Tunas General category permit.* NMFS Permit Shop

*Atlantic Tunas General category permit holders are prohibited from fishing under HMS Angling category regulations except when participating in a registered Atlantic HMS tournament.  When fishing in a registered Atlantic HMS tournament, Atlantic Tunas General category permit holders must comply with HMS Angling category regulations for swordfish, sharks, and billfish, and with General category regulations for Atlantic tunas (i.e., General category permit holders may not fish for or land bluefin tuna <73” CFL under any circumstances).

General Tournament Restrictions
All Atlantic HMS recreational fishing regulations (e.g., size limits, bag limits, gear restrictions, possession restrictions) apply to Atlantic HMS tournament participants.



A billfish tournament is defined as any fishing tournament that awards points or prizes for billfish, even if billfish are not the main species targeted in the tournament.  Anglers fishing from Atlantic HMS permitted vessels and participating in Atlantic billfish tournaments must use only non-offset circle hooks when deploying natural bait or natural bait/artificial lure combinations.  Billfish tournament anglers may only deploy “J”-hooks with the use of artificial lures.  NMFS encourages the use of circle hooks by non-tournament anglers to reduce post-release mortality of Atlantic billfish.

Circle Hook

Circle Hook Videos (excerpts from DVD):
About the Circle Hook
Disclamer | Rigging a Ballyhoo Disclamer

Learn how to rig circle hooks.  You can order this free DVD at:

or by contacting the HMS Management Division at (727) 824-5399.

Atlantic HMS Literature
Atlantic HMS regulation booklets and other informational materials are freely available to tournament operators from the Atlantic HMS Management Division.  In order to request these materials, please mark the box at the bottom of the tournament registration form and indicate how many you would like to receive.  If the tournament is registered with a P.O. Box, please provide an additional (physical) address to which these materials can be mailed.

Atlantic HMS Recreational Compliance Guide [pdf]
Careful Catch and Release Brochure [pdf]
Shark Identification Placard (Pelagics/Ridgebacks) [pdf] Disclamer
Shark Identification Placard (Non-ridgebacks/Hammerheads) [pdf] Disclamer
Recreational Shark ID Placard
Identification Guide for Atlantic Swordfish, Billfish, and Tunas


Tournament reporting is a critical component of the HMS monitoring program.  The information collected is used to estimate tournament fishing effort and landings of HMS for stock assessments, national and international reports, and other monitoring efforts.

HMS tournament operators will be notified if the tournament is selected for reporting.  All billfish tournaments are selected for catch reporting.  Tournament operators that are selected to report must maintain and submit to NMFS a record of catch and effort on the following form:

Atlantic HMS Tournament Summary Report [pdf]*

Within 7 days after tournament fishing has ended, forms must be submitted to the SEFSC at one of the following:

Gulf of Mexico Tournaments
mail to: Tournament Reporting
3500 Delwood Beach Road
Panama City, FL 32408
e-mail to:
or FAX to: (850) 235-3559

Atlantic and Caribbean Tournaments
mail to: Tournament Reporting
75 Virginia Beach Drive
Miami, FL 33149
e-mail to:
or FAX to: (305) 361-4562

* iPad, iPhone, and Android tablet and phone users:
To open, fill, and e-mail these forms, you must use the Adobe Reader App:
iPad and iPhone: download the app (free) from iTunes
Android tablet and phone: download the app (free) from Google Play






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