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NOAA Fisheries Closes the 2017 Atlantic Bluefin Tuna General Category Fishery on December 6, 2017

Posted: December 5, 2017

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) closes the General category fishery for large medium and giant Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) effective 11:30 p.m. local time, Wednesday, December 6, 2017, through December 31, 2017. 

The base quota for the General category is 466.7 mt.  To date this year, NOAA Fisheries has adjusted the General category base quota for 2017 three times, including a transfer of 40 mt from the Reserve category effective March 2, a transfer of 156.4 mt from the Reserve category effective September 28, and a transfer of 25.6 mt from the Harpoon category effective December 1.  The third transfer resulted in an adjusted General category December subquota of 12.7 mt and an adjusted 2017 General category quota of 688.7 mt.  Based on the best available BFT landings information for the General category BFT fishery, NMFS has determined that the available December subquota of 12.7 mt has been reached, as has the overall adjusted General category quota of 688.7 mt.  Therefore, retaining, possessing, or landing large medium or giant BFT by persons aboard vessels permitted in the Atlantic tunas General and HMS Charter/Headboat categories (while fishing commercially) must cease at 11:30 p.m. local time on December 6, 2017.  The General category will reopen automatically on January 1, 2018, for the January through March 2018 subperiod.  The intent of this closure is to prevent overharvest of the available December subquota and the adjusted 2017 General category quota.

Who is affected?

This closure applies to vessels permitted in the commercial Atlantic tunas General category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category.  For more information on BFT fishing regulations, including recreational size and retention limits, please go to hmspermits.noaa.gov

Fishermen may catch and release or tag and release BFT of all sizes, subject to the requirements of HMS catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs.  NMFS regulations 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/   

NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fisheries closely.  Dealers are required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer receiving BFTLate reporting by dealers compromises NMFS’ ability to timely implement actions such as quota and retention limit adjustment, as well as closures, and may result in enforcement actions.  General and HMS Charter/Headboat 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 or by using the HMS Catch Reporting App.

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