The bluefin tuna is the largest tuna species found in the world. This large, torpedo-shaped fish, swims long distances during their annual migrations which takes places in almost every ocean. In the United States, bluefin tuna can be found on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as the Gulf of Mexico where they spawn. It is illegal to target bluefin in their spawning areas but there is a quota for incidental catches in the Gulf of Mexico.
The 2022 Atlantic bluefin tuna season opened July 1 and will close November 30th but will close earlier if the annual quota is met. Bluefin tuna bag limits vary by permit, vessel type, fish size, and region. When the 2023 Atlantic bluefin tuna season dates are announced they will be updated here.
The bluefin tuna populations suffered a population decline due to overfishing in the mid-1900s. In 1982 harvest quotas were set to make the fishery sustainable and since it went into effect, bluefin populations have remained stable.
Strict harvest requirements have also been put in place to decrease the chance of bluefin being overharvested. These restrictions allow anglers to only use purse seine nets and hand equipment such as rod and reel, handline, or harpoon. Longline fishing operations are required to use weak hooks that decrease the chance of bluefin being caught as bycatch when targeting other large pelagic species like swordfish.
Offshore from Massachusetts, the ocean floor drops around deep ledges and banks which are feeding grounds for bluefin tuna. This area has a high population of bluefin tuna as well as some of the largest. The best places in Massachusetts to take a bluefin tuna trip are Cape Cod and Ipswich. Check out our bluefin tuna trips in Massachusetts to book your next trip.
The Massachusetts bluefin tuna season is managed federally by NOAA and the dates for 2022 have not been announced yet.
The Massachusetts bag limits for bluefin tuna are managed federally by NOAA and are restricted to 2-3 bluefin between 27” - 47” per boat per day and 1 tuna between 47” -73” per boat per day.
Cape May, New Jersey is in a great spot to access the offshore drops offs that are home to a large population of bluefin tuna. The underwater canyons near Cape May are home to several other species of tuna and continues to provide top-notch fishing year after year. Check out our Cape May bluefin tuna charters to book your next fishing trip.
The New Jersey bluefin tuna season is managed federally by NOAA and the dates for 2022 have not been announced yet.
The New Jersey bag limits for bluefin tuna are managed federally by NOAA and are restricted to 2-3 bluefin between 27” - 47” per boat per day and 1 tuna between 47” -73” per boat per day
The Pacific bluefin tuna season generally runs from May to October but varies depending on your location and the annual migration of fish. There is no closed season for recreational anglers targeting bluefin tuna on the pacific coast but there are bag limits for each state.
The Pacific bluefin tuna has less strict regulations where states have the authority to set bag limits and regulations. As of the 2020 population assessment, Pacific bluefin tuna are being overfished which may lead to regulation changes. Managing the Pacific bluefin tuna population is hard because they travel long distances and range from California to Japan. Since bluefin are caught by many different states and countries which regulate harvest differently, the regulations of one area have little impact on the population.
The California coast and more specifically San Diego is one of the best spots to catch Pacific bluefin tuna. San Diego has earned the title of Tuna Capital of the World because of the amazing tuna fishing opportunities it produces every year. To book the best bluefin tuna charter for your next fishing trip to San Diego, check out our guides.
Bluefin tuna in California have no closed season and can be caught year-round. The peak season to catch bluefin tuna in California is March-October.
The California bluefin tuna bag limit is 2 per boat per day but also may not have more than 20 fish on board.
Updated on January 4, 2023
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