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Federal Regulations for Atlantic HMS Tournaments

HMS tournaments are required to register and report to NOAA Fisheries, and to follow these regulations:

Angler Permits

Vessels fishing in Atlantic HMS Tournaments must have one of the following HMS permits, available from the HMS Permits Shop.

  1. HMS Angling
  2. HMS Charter/Headboat
  3. Atlantic Tunas General (Commercial)*
  4. Swordfish General (Commercial)*

*Anglers aboard these vessels must always follow the commercial restrictions (minimum size, bag limit, season, etc.) for the authorized species of the permit(s) held. Recreational fishing for other HMS is authorized only if fishing in a registered HMS tournament, and passengers must follow Angling permit restrictions (minimum sizes, bag limits, seasons, etc.) for those HMS during the event.

General Restrictions

All Atlantic HMS recreational fishing regulations apply to Atlantic HMS tournament anglers.  Permit requirements and restrictions, size limits, bag limits, gear restrictions, possession restrictions, and more are in the HMS Recreational Compliance Guide. All state regulations must be followed, including those that are more restrictive.

Billfish & Swordfish Tournaments

Any tournament that awards points or prizes for the catch & release or landing of sailfish, white marlin, blue marlin, longbill spearfish (landing prohibited), or roundscale spearfish, is a billfish tournament.  

All billfish and swordfish tournaments are selected for catch reporting, including "catch & release" tournaments. See Report Tournament Catch for instructions.

Circle Hook Anglers fishing with natural bait (or natural/artificial combination bait) must only use non-offset circle hooks in billfish tournaments. Anglers may only use J-hooks in billfish tournaments if they are fishing with artificial lures.

Bluefin Tuna Tournaments

Any bluefin tuna that is landed or released dead must be reported by the permit holder or designee at hmspermits.noaa.gov/catchReports or (888) 872-8862 within 24 hours of returning to the dock, regardless of the recreational trip being private, for-hire, or tournament.