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Atlantic Bluefin Tuna General Category Fishery: NMFS Adjusts Daily Retention Limit for June-August 2014

Posted May 23, 2014

Actions being taken and important dates

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) adjusts the General category (commercial handgear) Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) retention limit from the default level to four large medium or giant BFT (i.e., four BFT measuring 73” or greater) per vessel per day/trip effective June 1 through August 31, 2014.  The default retention limit would be one large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip unless changed via this action.  NMFS takes this action after considering the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments, which include, among other things, available quota, fishery performance in recent years, the anticipated availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, the effects of the adjustment on the BFT stock and on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan.  This adjustment is intended to provide a reasonable opportunity to harvest the U.S. BFT quota without exceeding it, while maintaining an equitable distribution of fishing opportunities; help achieve optimum yield in the General category BFT fishery; and collect a broad range of data for stock monitoring purposes.

Based on June-August landings rates over the last several years, it is highly unlikely that the June–August subquota of 217.6 mt (as codified in 2011) will be filled with the default limit of one BFT/vessel.  A four-fish limit starting June 1 provides reasonable opportunity to harvest the available subquota without exceeding it while also maintaining equitable distribution of fishing opportunities, helping to achieve optimum yield, and collecting a broad range of data for stock monitoring purposes.

Through May 31, 2014, the General category fishery remains closed.

Who is affected?

The General category daily retention limit applies to vessels permitted in the commercial Atlantic tunas General category and the Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category while fishing commercially.  This limit is effective for all areas except for the Gulf of Mexico, which is designated as BFT spawning grounds and where NMFS does not allow targeted fishing.  Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip, the daily retention limit applies upon landing.  For example (and specific to the June-August 2014 limit), whether a vessel fishing under the General category limit takes a two-day trip or makes two trips in one day, the daily limit of four fish may not be exceeded upon landing.

NMFS will continue to monitor the fishery closely through dealer reports.  Depending on fishing effort and catch rates, NMFS may determine that additional retention limit adjustment or fishery closure is necessary to ensure available quota is not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas.

NMFS regulations at 50 CFR 635.21(a)(1) require that all BFT that are released be handled in a manner that will maximize their survival, and without removing the fish from the water.  For additional information on safe handling, see the Careful Catch and Release brochure available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/.

This notice is a courtesy to BFT fishery permit holders to help keep you informed about the fishery.  For additional information, call (888) 872-8862 or (978) 281-9260, or go to hmspermits.noaa.gov.  Official notice of Federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.

 

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