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Tuna regs as of May 5, 2002

MNFS News

Current Atlantic Tunas Recreational Baglimits
The current recreational daily bluefin tuna retention limit is ONE fish per vessel, measuring 47 to less than 73 inches curved fork length. (Subsequent changes to the daily retention limit will be announced on this web site. Angling category vessels in all areas are also allowed one large medium or giant "trophy" bluefin (measuring 73 inches curved fork length or greater) per vessel per fishing year. All bluefin must be reported by calling (888) 872-8862, visiting the www.nmfspermits.com website, or in Maryland and North Carolina, to the nearest reporting station. For North Carolina reporting station locations, call 1-800-338-7804; for Maryland reporting station locations, call (410) 213-1531. The Angling category yellowfin tuna daily retention limit is 3 yellowfin/person. The minimum size for yellowfin and bigeye tuna is 27" curved fork length.

NMFS ANNOUNCES FINAL RULE ON ATLANTIC TUNAS DEALER REPORTING, BLUEFIN TUNA ANGLING CATEGORY
1) requires mandatory dealer reporting for Atlantic bigeye, albacore, yellowfin and skipjack (BAYS) tunas; 2) adjusts the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) Angling category north-south division line and subquota allocations; 3) adjusts the 2001 BFT Angling category quota per the changes to the Angling category north-south division line and subquota allocations; 4) clarifies regulatory language regarding bluefin tuna statistical document (BSD) requirements and reporting; and 5) modifies regulatory text to facilitate enforcement of, and compliance with, the regulations. Each of the regulatory measures listed above are summarized below: BAYS Tunas Dealer Reporting This final rule amends the Highly Migratory Species (HMS) regulations to require mandatory dealer reporting of all purchases of BAYS tunas. Previous regulations only required dealer reporting of BAYS tunas when they are purchased along with sharks and/or swordfish. BFT Angling Category Geographical Division and 2001 Angling Category Quota This final rule amends the HMS regulations to adjust the north-south dividing line for the BFT Angling category to 39o 18' N. latitude, off Ocean City, New Jersey, just north of Great Egg Inlet. The old north-south dividing line was located at 3847' N. latitude (Delaware Bay). Because of this dividing line change, NMFS has adjusted the Angling category subquota allocations to 47.2 percent to the north and 52.8 percent to the south (the Angling category subquotas were previously 52.8 percent to the north and 47.2 percent to the south). As this rule adjusts the BFT Angling category north-south division line and subquota allocations, it is necessary to adjust to the recently published final initial 2001 BFT quota specifications to reflect these changes. Consequently, the final initial 2001 BFT Angling category quota of 609.3 metric tons (mt) is now subdivided as follows: School BFT -- 247.8 mt, with 127.0 mt to the northern area (north of 3918' N. latitude), 120.8 mt to the southern area (south of 3918' N. latitude), plus 20.6 mt held in reserve; large school/small medium BFT -- 330.0 mt, with 162.3 mt to the northern area and 167.7 mt to the southern area; and large medium/giant BFT -- 10.9 mt, with 4.8 mt to the northern area and 6.1 mt to the southern area. These subcategory quotas include carryover of unharvested quota from the 2000 fishing year, so they do not correspond exactly to the adjusted baseline allocation percentages referenced above. Bluefin Tuna Statistical Document (BSD) Requirements This final rule clarifies that the BSD requirements, consistent with ICCAT recommendations, apply to all northern bluefin tuna (i.e., northern bluefin tuna from both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans), not just Atlantic bluefin tuna. The regulation has been in place since 1995, but the implementing regulations for the HMS Fishery Management Plan (published on May 28, 1999), required clarification of the definitions, acronyms, and regulatory text regarding Atlantic vs. Pacific bluefin tuna. Facilitation of Enforcement and Compliance This final rule amends the HMS regulations to facilitate enforcement and compliance. These include: amending the regulations to require that commercially-caught BFT, on board trailered vessels, be tagged immediately upon the vessel being removed from the water; specifying the minimum size for swordfish in terms of Lower Jaw Fork Length (LJFL), in addition to the minimum size determined by a cleithrum to keel measurement. The LJFL minimum size for swordfish is 47 inches (119 cm); and restoring a prohibition on assaulting or impeding NMFS employees or contractors collecting scientific or management information on Atlantic HMS that was inadvertently omitted when the HMS regulations were consolidated under 50 CFR part 635 in 1999. amending the HMS vessel identification regulations to make them consistent with those for other Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico species, requiring 3 inch (7.6 cm) block numerals for vessels less than 25 ft (7.6 m) in length, and clarifying that the HMS vessel identification regulations do not apply to vessels with Atlantic tunas Angling category permits. These regulatory changes will all be effective September 14, 2001, 30 days after publication of the final rule in the Federal Register.

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