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Billfish & Atlantic Tunas Size & Catch Limits

Hunting Regulations Icon South Carolina Hunting & Fishing

TL=Total Length, FL=Fork Length.

AIW=Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway; State Waters extend from the saltwater-freshwater dividing line to the 3-mile limit. Federal Waters extend from the 3-mile limit to 200 miles offshore (international waters).

Up to date fishing regulations can be found on the SCDNR website at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/regs/saltwaterfish.html.

All species in this section must be landed with head and tail intact.

An operator or crew member onboard a for-hire or commercial vessel must have a valid Operator Card when underway fishing for Dolphin/Wahoo.

These species are also managed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) in federal waters. Regulations may change. Please contact the SAFMC at 843-571-4366 or www.safmc.net to get the most up to date regulations on these species.

The harvest and possession of coastal migratory pelagic species by commercial and recreational fishermen will be limited to the recreational bag limit within the Special Management Zones.

Federal Highly Migratory Species Permit required to fish for these species. All billfish to be released may not be removed from the water. All recreationally caught Atlantic billfish landed must be reported to NMFS within 24 hours of landing at the dock. Anglers can report by calling 1-800-894-5528 or by visiting https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/. Recreationally caught billfish may not be sold.

Species

Closed Season

Bag Limit

Size Limit

Restrictions

Billfish

Blue Marlin 99-inch FL from lower jaw
  • May only be taken by rod & reel.
White Marlin 66-inch FL from lower jaw
  • May only be taken by rod & reel.
Sailfish 63-inch FL from lower jaw
  • May only be taken by rod & reel.
Swordfish 1 per person per day not to exceed
4 per vessel per trip
47-inch FL from lower jaw
  • May only be taken by rod & reel and handlines. Handlines must be attached to, or remain in contact with, the vessel at all times.
  • See https://hmspermits.noaa.gov for for-hire vessel bag limits.
Roundscale Spearfish 66-inch FL from lower jaw
  • May only be taken by rod & reel.
Longbill Spearfish Possession prohibited
  • If caught fish must be released immediately.

Atlantic Tunas

Federal Highly Migratory Species Permit required to fish for these species except for the Other Tunas. Check current federal regulations by calling 1-888-USA-TUNA (1-888-872-8862) or checking https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/.
Albacore, Skipjack No associated regulations.
Bigeye Tuna 27-inch curved FL
Bluefin Tuna NOAA Fisheries has adjusted the Atlantic Bluefin tuna daily retention limits which applies to vessels permitted in the Highly Migratory Species Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category. Visit https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/bulletin/bluefin-tuna-angling-category-daily-retention-limit-adjustment for detailed information regarding bag limits prior to fishing.
  • See https://hmspermits.noaa.gov for for-hire vessel bag and size limits.
  • All recreationally caught Atlantic billfish and Bluefin tuna landed must be reported to NMFS within 24 hours of landing at the dock.
Yellowfin Tuna 3 per person per day per trip 27-inch curved FL
Other tunas: Blackfin, Bonita, and Little tunny No associated regulations.