Tuna

One of the most sought after fish in the Atlantic Ocean, bluefin tuna can be found right off the coast of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. A big, strong fish, the bluefin provides what every deep-sea angler seeks: a tough fight. Atlantic bluefin tuna, with an average weight exceeding 400 pounds, offers some of the most exciting and demanding offshore fishing opportunities available. With plenty of charter boats and access points along the Eastern Shore, Maryland makes it easy to get out after these notorious fish.

173315513The Atlantic bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus, is one of the most valuable animals in the world. Its commercial value in the Asian sushi and sashimi markets can be as high as $60,000 each for giant tuna. Recreational fishermen on the Atlantic coast pay top dollar for offshore charter boats seeking bluefins. Frequenting the offshore sand ridges and canyons of the continental shelf and slope, these fish are often found wherever there is mixing of cold and warm currents. Off Maryland’s coast, this can be thirty or forty miles offshore.

Looking for the perfect fishing spot? Access Maryland DNR’s Public Fishing Access Map.

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Recreational bluefin tuna season is open year-round. However, regulations and restrictions are stringent. Bag limits change throughout the season, and only a certain number of recreational tuna are allowed to be harvested per year, collectively. Once the quota is filled for the season, a closure period takes effect prohibiting recreational bluefin tuna from being harvested. The size of the fish also dictates whether or not they can be harvested. For updates pertaining to these restrictions and closures, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website for the most recent updates. For more information regarding regulations and seasonal adjustments, visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ bluefin tuna page.

Looking for the perfect fishing spot? Access Maryland DNR’s Public Fishing Access Map.

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The best way to bag a tuna is to get out early in the year, as the recreational bluefin quota usually fills up towards the end of the calendar year. The Eastern Shore provides easy access to bluefin habitat. Drop your boat at one of the many access point on the shore, stock up on tackle, and head out. For important information and regulations concerning bringing your own boat to Maryland, visit DNR’s Boat Registration page online. Owners of vessels used to fish recreationally (i.e., no sale of fish) for Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) – i.e., billfish, swordfish, sharks and tunas – are required to obtain a HMS Angling category permit from National MArine Fisheries Service (NMFS) by visiting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website.

For those without a boat, any number of charters with experienced captains can take you out for a day chasing bluefin tuna. Great for families or the spontaneous group trip, charters supply all the necessary gear and have the appropriate licenses allowing for a worry-free day of tuna fishing.

Looking for the perfect fishing spot? Access Maryland DNR’s Public Fishing Access Map.

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Getting a fishing license in Maryland couldn’t be easier. Download DNR’s app on your smartphone (MD DNR), click Apply for License, and enroll. From here, you can register any catches, post photos, and check for regulations updates. Simple, quick, and at the palm of your hand, DNR’s app is the easiest way to get your Maryland fishing license. Or, you can apply for a license through Maryland DNR’s website .

The Highly Migratory Species Division (HMS) of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) manages Atlantic highly migratory species including Atlantic tunas, sharks, swordfish, billfish (blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish and longbill spearfish) and Atlantic swordfish to ensure long-term, sustainable fisheries for these species. Owners of vessels used to fish recreationally (i.e., no sale of fish) for Atlantic HMS (billfish, swordfish, sharks and tunas) are required to obtain an HMS Angling category permit from NMFS by visiting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

No private vessel recreational anglers or charterboat/headboats can fish for or keep an Atlantic bluefin tuna without first obtaining an HMS permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). All successful anglers are required to complete a Maryland bluefin Tuna Landing Card. Landing cards can be obtained from MDNR approved reporting stations; return the card(s) to one of the Maryland approved reporting stations in the Ocean City area to obtain a landing tag. This tag must be affixed to the blue fin tuna prior to its removal from the vessel. Landing cards will also be available from the MDNR Oceanside Field Station in Ocean City, MD (410) 213-1531.

For more information about the regulations, instructions, offices, and permits surrounding recreational bluefin tuna fishing, visit DNR’s Tuna Tagging page.

Visit Maryland Department of Natural Resources online for a full list of Maryland’s Fishing Regulations.

Money generated from the sale of licenses goes directly to the conservation, protection, and preservation of Maryland’s natural habitat and cherished wildlife. Maryland DNR works tirelessly to maintain a healthy population of bluefin tuna and the regulations needed to sustain fishing in Maryland. Changes in regulations, dates, and requirements vary year-to-year. Please check with DNR frequently for the most up-to-date information.

Looking for the perfect fishing spot? Access Maryland DNR’s Public Fishing Access Map.

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