Anglers who are lucky enough to come across any bluefin tuna this year should make sure they know the new regulations this season. The passage of Amendment 7 brings new regulations for HMS Charter/Headboat and HMS Angling permit holders including the possibility for crews in the Gulf of Mexico to retain one trophy sized (>73″) per vessel per year. By allocating a portion of the trophy subquota to the Gulf of Mexico region, any boats holding a valid HMS Charter/Headboat or HMS Angling permit may retain one trophy sized bluefin per vessel per year that are incidentally caught (recreational boats cannot target bluefin in the Gulf of Mexico).
These regulations take effect May 15, 2015 and the Gulf of Mexico trophy category will remain open until the quota (roughly 8-9 fish) is filled. Anglers should be mindful to keep updated for announcements of when the trophy category closes for each region. Recreational retention limits for all other areas (North & South) are detailed below.
The recreational BFT trophy fishery (73″+) is currently open in all areas with a limit of 1 BFT measuring 73″ or greater/vessel/year.
Effective May 15, 2015, the bluefin tuna (BFT) daily retention limits are increased from the default limit of 1 BFT measuring 27-73″ to the following. For HMS Angling-permitted vessels: 1 school BFT (27 to <47″) + 1 large school/small medium BFT (47- <73″). For HMS Charter/Headboat-permitted vessels: 2 school BFT (27 to <47″) + 1 large school/small medium BFT (47- <73″). These limits are effective for all areas except the Gulf of Mexico.
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.