Highly Migratory Species

Highly Migratory Species collage

 

Highly Migratory Species

Highly Migratory Species such as swordfish, billfish, tunas and sharks are migratory in nature and capable of travelling great distances throughout the ocean.

In addition to state management, these species are also managed on federal and international levels. Please check federal regulations icon_external.png before targeting these species.

Shark regulations can be found on the saltwater recreational regulations shark page.

Billfish and Swordfish

Florida Recreational Regulations:

Species  Minimum Size Limit Daily Bag Limit  Season  Federal HMS Angling Permit required in federal waters?**   Remarks* 
Blue Marlin 99 inches lower jaw/fork length 1 billfish per person     Open year-round      Yes      
Roundscale Spearfish 66 inches lower jaw/fork length  
Sailfish 63 inches lower jaw/fork length  
White Marlin 66 inches lower jaw/fork length  
 Swordfish

47 inches lower jaw/fork length

25 inches cleithrum to keel length 

1 per person not to exceed a maximum of 4 per recreational (not for-hire) vessel or 15 per for-hire vessel per day.

Charter boats limited to 6 per vessel.

Regardless of the length of the trip, no more than the daily limit may be possessed onboard a vessel.

Hook and line only.

Zero daily bag and possession limit for captain and crew of for-hire vessels.

Swordfish damaged by shark bites may be retained only if the remainder of the carcass is at least 47 inches lower jaw fork length or 25 inches cleithrum to keel length.

*All landed billfish or swordfish must be reported to NOAA within 24 hours at 800-894-5528 or https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/ icon_external.png.

** This permit is not required for anglers fishing for billfish, swordfish or sharks in state waters.

 

Swordfish measurement

CK stands for cleithrum to keel length.

Tunas

Tunas that are managed federally as Highly Migratory Species require a federal HMS Angling Permit in both state and federal waters and are also subject to federal regulations.  Tunas that are not regulated federally are considered “unregulated” species in Florida state waters.  All “unregulated” species have a default recreational bag limit of two fish or 100 pounds per day, whichever is more. For species that are regulated by federal fishery managers, learn more at the NOAA Fisheries Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Management Division icon_external.png website.

Florida Recreational Regulations:

Species Federal HMS Angling Permit required in state and federal waters? Minimum Size Limit  Daily Bag Limit  Season 
Bluefin*  Yes      Federal regulations apply in state waters. Learn more at the NOAA Fisheries Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Management Division icon_external.png website.       
Bigeye
Albacore
Yellowfin
Skipjack
Atlantic Bonito No    None    The default bag limit for all “unregulated” species is two fish or 100 pounds per day, whichever is more.    Open year-round   
Blackfin
Little Tunny (bonito)

*Bluefin tuna caught in state or federal waters must be reported to NOAA within 24 hours at 888-872-8862 or https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/ icon_external.png.

HMS Angling Permit

In federal waters: Anglers targeting billfish, swordfish, shark, bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, albacore tuna, yellowfin tuna and skipjack tuna are required to have a federal HMS Angling Permit. The permit is issued to the fishing vessel, so it will cover all anglers onboard. Anglers can apply for a permit online at https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/ or by calling 888-872-8862.

In state waters: Anglers targeting bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, albacore tuna, yellowfin tuna and skipjack tuna are required to have a federal HMS Angling Permit. The HMS angling permit is not required when fishing for billfish, swordfish or sharks in state waters.

HMS Reporting

Any HMS fish caught in state and federal waters (excluding sharks and non-bluefin tunas) that are landed (killed and brought to shore) must be reported to NOAA Fisheries within 24 hours. Call 800-894-5528 to report landings of swordfish and billfish, and 888-872-8862 to report bluefin tuna landings or report both online at https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/ icon_external.png.

HMS Tournaments

Official HMS tournament operators in the Gulf and the Atlantic need to register with NOAA Fisheries (Highly Migratory Species Division) and follow all reporting requirements. Learn more on HMS tournaments and tournament requirements.

Links for more information

 



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