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Federal Limits

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2011 Federal Recreational Regulations for Minimum Size, Possession Limits and Seasons

See New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Recreational Fishing Seasons Minimum Size and Possession Limits for state waters listings of species not included in these federal waters regulations (from 3–200nm). For federal regulation questions, please contact the National Marine Fisheries Service at (978) 281-9260, or go to www.nmfs.noaa.gov.

Species

Season

Minimum Size

Possession Limit
(number per angler per day
unless otherwise specified)

Notes

Striped Bass

Possession prohibited in federal waters (3–200 nm). See pages 11 and 15 for NJ waters.

Dolphin
(Mahi mahi)

Year round

None

10, not to exceed 60 per vessel, which ever is less — except on a charter or headboat, then 10 per paying passenger.

For current federal waters regulations (3–200nm), refer to
www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/ or call (727) 824-5399.

Marlin, White

Year round

66″ lower jaw
fork length

None

Billfish require Highly Migratory Species (HMS) permit when fishing in federal waters (3–200 nm). For permits refer to www.hmspermits.gov or call (888) 872-8862.

During any sanctioned billfish tournaments offering prize money, non-offset circle hooks are required for lures with natural bait or natural/artificial bait combos. Refer to www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/ or call (978) 281-9260.

All non-tournament billfish landings must be reported to NMFS within 24 hours, either online at www.hmspermits.gov or by calling (800) 894-5528.

For current regulations refer to www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/ or call (727) 824-5399.

Marlin, Blue

Year round

99″ lower jaw
fork length

None

Sailfish

Year round

63″ lower jaw
fork length

None

Spearfish, Longbill

None

None

Prohibited

Golden Tilefish

Year round

None

None

For current federal waters regulations (3–200nm), refer to www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/ or call (978) 281-9260.

Swordfish

Year round

47″ lower jaw
fork length

For anglers: 1 per person, no more than
4 per vessel per trip.

For charter vessels: 1 per paying passenger, no more than 6 per vessel per trip.

For headboat vessels: 1 per paying passenger, no more than 15 per vessel per trip.

Swordfish, tuna and sharks require an HMS permit when fishing in federal waters (3–200 nm). For permits, refer to www.hmspermits.gov or call (888) 872-8862.

All non-tournament swordfish landings must be reported to NMFS within 24 hours either online at www.hmspermits.gov or by calling (800) 894-5528.

Bluefin tuna are managed in two regions; Northern, extending north from the Great Egg Inlet and Southern extending south from Great Egg Inlet. Fishing for bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico is prohibited. Bluefin tuna retention limits may change throughout the season. Visit www.hmspermits.gov or call (888) 872-8862 or (978) 281-9260 for current information.

All recreational bluefin tuna landings must be reported to NMFS within 24 hours either online at www.hmspermits.gov or by calling (888) 872-8862.

For current federal waters regulations (3–200nm), refer to www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/ or call (301) 713-2347 for swordfish/sharks or (978) 281-9260 for tunas.

Tuna, Albacore (Longfin)

Year round

None

None

Tuna, Bigeye

Year round

27″ curved
fork length

None

Tuna, Bluefin

Year Round

27 to <73″ curved
fork length

1 BFT per vessel per trip per day.

May change during season.
See Bluefin Note at right.

≥73 curved
fork length

1 trophy giant BFT per vessel per year

Tuna, Skipjack

Year round

None

None

Tuna, Yellowfin

Year round

27″ curved
fork length

3 per person per trip

Shark,
Large Coastal*

Year round

>54″, 4.5ft, or 1.37m
fork length

One Shark (of any species, except prohibited species) per vessel per trip;
plus one Atlantic sharpnose shark per person per trip (no minimum size);
plus one bonnethead shark per person per trip (no minimum size).

See below for list of shark groups which MAY be kept or MUST be released. Swordfish, tuna and sharks require an HMS permit when fishing in federal waters (3–200 nm). For permits, refer to www.hmspermits.gov or call (888) 872-8862. Recreational fishermen (those that do not have a limited access commercial shark permit) can not sell, barter or trade any Atlantic shark or shark pieces.

Shark,
Small Coastal*

Shark, Pelagic*

*Shark Species That May Be Kept: Large Coastal Shark—blacktip, bull, lemon, nurse, tiger, spinner, scalloped hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, great hammerhead; Small Coastal Shark—Atlantic sharpnose, bonnethead, blacknose, finetooth; Pelagic Shark—Shortfin mako, blue, porbeagle, oceanic whitetip and common thresher. Shark Species That MUST Be Released: Atlantic angel, basking, bigeye sand tiger, bigeye sixgill, bigeye thresher, bignose, Caribbean reef, Caribbean sharpnose, dusky, Galapagos, longfin mako, narrowtooth, night, sandbar, sand tiger, sevengill, silky, sixgill, smalltail, whale and white.

Regulations concerning highly migratory species (HMS) such as tuna, swordfish, shark and billfish, are subject to change. Refer to www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/ for a list of complete federal regulations for highly migratory species. For questions/clarification of the federal highly migratory species regulations, contact the National Marine Fisheries Service at (301) 713-2347 or go to www.nmfs.noaa.gov.

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