Pacific Bluefin Tuna Commercial Harvest Status

On May 16, 2014, NMFS published a final rule regarding domestic implementation of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC)  Resolution C-13-02 (Measures for the Conservation and Management of Bluefin Tuna in the Eastern Pacific Ocean). The final rule (79 FR 28448) restricts the commercial catch of Pacific bluefin tuna in the IATTC Convention Area for the year 2014. As with the Pacific bluefin tuna catch limits that were implemented in 2013, the United States commercial fleet may harvest up to 500 metric tons (mt) of bluefin tuna, or more if the total catch by all IATTC members and Cooperating non-members (collectively known as CPCs) has not reached or exceeded the Commission-wide limit. The Commission-wide limit for 2014 has been set at 5,000 mt; this limit is considered reached as of July 2014. The U.S. commercial fleet may continue to harvest Pacific bluefin from the IATTC Convention Area until the 500 mt limit is met.

Based on the best available catch and landings information at the time, NMFS closed commercial fishing for Pacific bluefin tuna on September 5, 2014, through the remainder of 2014 (79 FR 53631). However, recent catch updates indicate that the fishery was closed prematurely and a portion of the 500 mt catch limit remains available for the U.S. commercial fleet. As a result, NMFS issued an emergency rule, effective November 13, 2014 (79 FR 68133), and imposes a 1 mt trip limit on retention of Pacific bluefin tuna in the IATTC Convention Area by commercial vessels, which vacates the closure made by NMFS. Please contact Mark Helvey at (562) 980-4040 if there are any questions regarding this action.

The Commercial harvest of Pacific bluefin tuna in the IATTC Convention Area is in metric tons (mt).

Year Regulations Commission-wide  commercial limit Commission-wide commercial catch in the IATTC Convention Area to date U.S. commercial catch limit, notwithstanding the Commission-wide limit U.S. commercial catch to date
2014 79 FR 28448
79 FR 53631
79 FR 68133
5,000 mt 4,865 mt caught as of July 9; limit determined to be reached 500 mt 404 mt caught as of November 13, 2014
2013 78 FR 33240 3,295 mt*   Limit determined to be reached in July 500 mt 6 mt caught

* IATTC Resolution C-12-09 established a Commission-wide limit of 10,000 mt for 2012 and 2013. NMFS implemented the resolution in 2013 when 3,295 mt of the Commission-wide limit remained after the IATTC Director determined that 6,705 mt had been caught by IATTC Members and Cooperating non-members in 2012.

NOTE: Catch data is preliminary and provided by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife and Pacific Fisheries Information Network. Monthly reports of catch for IATTC CPCs are available on the IATTC website.

The above information is current as of November 14, 2014.

For more information, contact Amber Rhodes at amber.rhodes@noaa.gov or (562) 980-3231