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NOAA Fisheries Transfers 80 mt from the Reserve Category and Adjusts the Daily Retention Limit to Three Fish for the Remainder of 2015

Posted November 25, 2015

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) transfers 80 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) quota from the Reserve category to the General category and adjusts the General category BFT daily retention limit for the remainder of 2015 from four to three large medium or giant BFT (measuring 73” or greater) per vessel per day/trip.  NMFS takes this action after considering the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments, which include considerations about the amount of available quota, effects of the action on the continuation of the fishery, availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, the value of information obtained from the fishery, effects of the adjustments on the stock, and consistency with the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments. Per the regulations regarding adjustment of General category Atlantic bluefin tuna daily retention limits, the adjustment from four to three large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip will be effective Saturday, November 28.

The transfer of 80 mt of Reserve category quota to the General category for the remainder of 2015 results in adjusted General and Reserve category quotas for 2015 of 646.7 mt and 2.1 mt, respectively.  NMFS will close the 2015 General category fishery when the adjusted General category quota of 646.7 mt has been reached, or it will close automatically on December 31, 2015, whichever comes first.

These adjustments should provide a reasonable opportunity to harvest the U.S. quota of BFT without exceeding it, preserve the opportunity for General category fishermen to participate in the winter BFT fishery, allow collection of a broad range of data for stock monitoring purposes, and will be consistent with the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments.

For more information on BFT fishing regulations, including recreational size and retention limits, please go to hmspermits.noaa.gov

Who is affected?

This action applies to vessels permitted in the commercial Atlantic tunas General category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category while fishing commercially.  The daily retention 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 for BFT.  Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip, the daily retention limit applies upon landing.  For example (and specific to the limit that will apply through the end of the year), whether a vessel fishing under the General category limit takes a two-day trip or makes two trips in one day, the day/trip limit of three fish applies and may not be exceeded upon landing.

NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fisheries closely.  Dealers are required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer receiving BFT.  General category, HMS Charter/Headboat, Harpoon, and Angling category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov.  Depending on fishing effort and catch rates, additional retention limit adjustments or fishery closures may be 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 survivability, 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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