Permits and catch reports can be processed online by NOAA Fisheries.
NOAA Fisheries, also known as the National Marine Fisheries Service, is an office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the Department of Commerce. It has five regional offices, six science centers, and more than 20 laboratories around the United States and U.S. territories. NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the stewardship of the nation’s ocean resources and their habitat.
NOAA Fisheries requires fishermen and dealers to obtain federal permits if they fish for, sell, purchase, or import Atlantic highly migratory species (HMS). These species include tuna, billfish, swordfish, and sharks. Permits are also required to import all HMS, and to export bluefin tuna, swordfish, and frozen bigeye tuna.
Recreational fishing for HMS in federal waters and within the waters of Atlantic coastal states for tunas (excluding Maine, Connecticut, and Mississippi), requires vessel owners to have a valid federal fishing permit for their vessel. The type of permit depends on the fish species, fishing gear, and fishing trip. Each permit is issued to a vessel owner for a specific vessel. All passengers on board a vessel with a valid HMS permit may recreationally fish for Atlantic HMS under specified terms and conditions.
To apply for a permit, the process is completed online at: hmspermits.noaa.gov
Once a permit is obtained, it is important to review the types of tackle and equipment that are authorized for use. This will vary depending upon the type of permit and fish species. Specific requirements are assigned to fishing gear, hooks, and techniques.
An angler on an Atlantic HMS- permitted vessel may fish recreationally for Atlantic HMS in federal waters, except in areas closed to fishing. The areas currently closed to fishing are:
› Tortugas Marine Reserves
› Madison-Swanson and Steamboat
Lumps Closed Areas
› Edges 40 Fathom Contour Closed Area
› Gulf of Mexico Bluefin Tuna
› South Atlantic Swordfish
An important part of the permit regulations involves reporting your catch. All recreational catch (landings and dead discards) of Atlantic bluefin tuna, as well as landings of swordfish and billfish (white and blue marlin, sailfish, and roundscale spearfish) must be reported. A landing occurs any time these fish are brought back to shore. NOAA Fisheries has developed an online portal and app to complete this process: hmspermits.noaa.gov/catchreports
CAPT. JAKE DESVERGERS IS CHIEF SURVEYOR FOR INTERNATIONAL YACHT BUREAU (IYB), WHICH PROVIDES FLAG STATE INSPECTION SERVICES TO PRIVATE AND COMMERCIAL YACHTS ON BEHALF OF SEVERAL FLAG STATE ADMINISTRATIONS.