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Highly Migratory Species

NEWS: Blackfin Tuna

The FWC at the July Commission meeting will consider a draft proposal to create a recreational bag limit of two fish per person per day, 10 fish per vessel per day, whichever is greater, and to extend this limit into federal waters. If this draft proposal is approved, staff will bring the item back for a final public hearing at the October 2019 Commission meeting.

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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 before targeting these species.

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

Billfish and Swordfish Regulations

blue marlin

Minimum Size Limit: 99" lower jaw/fork length

Daily Bag Limit: 1 billfish per person

Season: Open year-round

Federal HMS Angling Permit required in federal waters. This permit is not required for anglers fishing for billfish, swordfish or sharks in state waters.

Blue Marlin Species Profile

 

Minimum Size Limit: 66" lower jaw/fork length

Daily Bag Limit: 1 billfish per person

Season: Open year-round

Federal HMS Angling Permit required in federal waters. This permit is not required for anglers fishing for billfish, swordfish or sharks in state waters.

sailfish

Minimum Size Limit: 63" lower jaw/fork length

Daily Bag Limit: 1 billfish per person

Season: Open year-round

Federal HMS Angling Permit required in federal waters. This permit is not required for anglers fishing for billfish, swordfish or sharks in state waters.

Sailfish Species Profile

Sailfish you intend to release may not be removed from the water when 1) fishing in federal waters OR 2) if you are fishing in state waters and you have a federal HMS permit.

white marlin

Minimum Size Limit: 66" lower jaw/fork length

Daily Bag Limit: 1 billfish per person

Season: Open year-round

Federal HMS Angling Permit required in federal waters. This permit is not required for anglers fishing for billfish, swordfish or sharks in state waters.

White Marlin Species Profile

Swordfish measurements

Minimum Size Limit: 47" lower jaw/fork length; 25" cleithrum to keel

Daily Bag Limit: 1 per person not to exceed a maximum of 4 per recreational (not for-hire) vessel or 15 per for-hire vessel. Charter boats limited to 6 per vessel. Regardless of the length of the trip, no more than the daily limit may be possessed on board a vessel.

Season: Open year-round

Federal HMS Angling Permit required in federal waters. This permit is not required for anglers fishing for billfish, swordfish or sharks in state waters.

Additional information: 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" lower jaw fork length or 25 inches cleithrum to keel.

Swordfish Species Profile

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

Tunas

skip jack tuna

Fishing for tunas that are managed federally as Highly Migratory Species requires a federal HMS Angling Permit in both state and federal waters and is 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 website.

 

Bluefin*, Bigeye, Albacore Yellowfin

Federal HMS Angling Permit is required when fishing in state and federal waters.

Federal regulations apply in state waters. Learn more at the NOAA Fisheries Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Management Division website. 

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

Atlantic bonito, blackfin, little tunny (bonito)

Federal HMS Angling Permit NOT required in state or federal waters. 

Minimum Size Limit: none

Daily Bag Limit: 2 fish or 100 pounds per day, whichever is more

Season: Open year-round

 

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.

If you are fishing in state waters on a vessel that has an HMS permit, federal rules require that you follow federal HMS regulations, unless state regs are more restrictive (in which case, you must follow state regs). 

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/ .

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

Federal HMS Regulations