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Highly Migratory Species Permit, do I need it?

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Highly Migratory Species Permit, do I need it?

Old 01-08-2017, 03:50 PM
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Default Highly Migratory Species Permit, do I need it?

Hello to all.

I am a weekend worrier (not a commercial fisherman nor charter boat captain) who fishes for Blackfin Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo, Dolphin, Sailfish, and Marlin. I do not and will not keep any Sailfish or Marlin. I fish out of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic when down in the Keys.

Do I need a HMS Permit?
Old 01-08-2017, 03:58 PM
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Yes. Go here... https://hmspermits.noaa.gov

From the FAQ

Q:Do I need a recreational permit to fish for or land tunas, sharks, swordfish, and/or bilfish?
A:Yes, vessel owners/operators who recreationally fish for or retain regulated Atlantic tunas (bluefin, yellowfin, bigeye, albacore, and skipjack), sharks, swordfish, and billfish in Atlantic Federal waters, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, must obtain an HMS Angling category permit or a HMS Charter/Headboat permit. However, General category vessels may fish recreationally for HMS so long as they are participating in a registered recreational HMS tournament and fishing under tournament rules. Vessels fishing exclusively in state waters are required to obtain the HMS Angling permit if they wish to keep their regulated tunas (bluefin, yellowfin, bigeye, skipjack, and albacore). Vessel owners/operators should check their state regulations regarding the retention of sharks, swordfish, and/or billfish in state waters.
Old 01-08-2017, 04:34 PM
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Absolutely yes.
Old 01-08-2017, 05:12 PM
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If what you say is true about the billfish then the only fish on your list that requires an HMS is the Yellowfin.You only need the HMS if you plan on putting em on ice
Old 01-08-2017, 05:29 PM
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It's only $20 but I'd pass unless you plan on taking up swordfishing or plan on targeting yellowfin in the Gulf. Odds of catching any of the listed species for a weekend warrior are slim. The only yellowfin, bigeye or bluefin tunas I've ever caught or seen caught on the Atlantic side have been in the Bahamas. And skipjack or albacore you can have my share. I doubt the local FWC mullet police would care even if they caught you.
Old 01-08-2017, 05:30 PM
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Yup!
Old 01-08-2017, 05:37 PM
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So you accidentally run up on a school of yellowfin and can't keep them because you didn't buy a $20 permit? Picture you and your friends throwing delicious tuna over board because of a $20 bill. Just saying!!
Old 01-08-2017, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by tgrady View Post
So you accidentally run up on a school of yellowfin and can't keep them because you didn't buy a $20 permit? Picture you and your friends throwing delicious tuna over board because of a $20 bill. Just saying!!
Exactly. A $20 bill in the scheme of your other boating expenses is the equivalent of a deck chair on the Queen Mary. Get the permit and this way if you are fortunate enough to catch one of the species covered by the permit you will be ok.
Old 01-08-2017, 06:49 PM
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Thanks everyone for their responses. I had one last year and was looking over the renewal letter and started wondering if I really needed it. But everyone is right, $20 bucks in the grand scheme...

Renewed.
Old 01-08-2017, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by KBH View Post
It's only $20 but I'd pass unless you plan on taking up swordfishing or plan on targeting yellowfin in the Gulf. Odds of catching any of the listed species for a weekend warrior are slim. The only yellowfin, bigeye or bluefin tunas I've ever caught or seen caught on the Atlantic side have been in the Bahamas. And skipjack or albacore you can have my share. I doubt the local FWC mullet police would care even if they caught you.
Sometimes the internet provides you with some really bad advice.^^^^^^^.
Old 01-09-2017, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by DotRotten View Post
Sometimes the internet provides you with some really bad advice.^^^^^^^.
Let's put it a different way. I've been boating, fishing and diving in south Florida longer than many of the keyboard warriors here have been alive. I grew up in Miami on Key Biscayne before there was any such thing as HMS permits and there were almost no limits on anything including lobsters or bill fish. Most all my friends are boat owners and fishermen and have been doing the same thing. I've never known anyone that has had a HMS permit other than myself and not once have I heard of it causing any of us to lose or release an HM species fish. The only reason I now have one is because I've just started daytime swordfishing.

So, it's up to you. You can either consider it cheap insurance or you can call it a waste of money. As I implied in my first post, Mr. Know it all.
Old 01-09-2017, 07:33 AM
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My buddy and I caught a White Marlin a couple of years ago. Unfortunately we only got half of it in and the half wasn't legal length. But if it was we would have liked to have had a permit and would have smoked what was left after the Shark destruction if it had been long enough.

If we had been able to release the Marlin alive we would have done that rather than kill one that had a chance to live on a release.

As the others have said, the odds of catching a White Marlin or a Yellowfin in the areas you fish are pretty slim, in a lifetime of fishing I have only seen 2 White Marlins landed and oddly enough, both were killed by sharks on the way in.
Old 01-09-2017, 08:36 AM
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Being legal is always a good plan. Keeping fish that you're not supposed to keep without the proper license or permits will eventually bite you in the rear!! Ask them boys in the Bahamas!!
Old 01-09-2017, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by KBH View Post
Let's put it a different way. I've been boating, fishing and diving in south Florida longer than many of the keyboard warriors here have been alive. I grew up in Miami on Key Biscayne before there was any such thing as HMS permits and there were almost no limits on anything including lobsters or bill fish. Most all my friends are boat owners and fishermen and have been doing the same thing. I've never known anyone that has had a HMS permit other than myself and not once have I heard of it causing any of us to lose or release an HM species fish. The only reason I now have one is because I've just started daytime swordfishing.

So, it's up to you. You can either consider it cheap insurance or you can call it a waste of money. As I implied in my first post, Mr. Know it all.

If you do not have a permit you are fishing illegally. Does not matter if you are keeping or releasing, or how long you have been fishing.. The permit is to "FISH FOR OR RETAIN" not just retain


Q:Do I need a recreational permit to fish for or land tunas, sharks, swordfish, and/or bilfish?
A:Yes, vessel owners/operators who recreationally fish for or retain regulated Atlantic tunas (bluefin, yellowfin, bigeye, albacore, and skipjack), sharks, swordfish, and billfish in Atlantic Federal waters, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, must obtain an HMS Angling category permit or a HMS Charter/Headboat permit. However, General category vessels may fish recreationally for HMS so long as they are participating in a registered recreational HMS tournament and fishing under tournament rules. Vessels fishing exclusively in state waters are required to obtain the HMS Angling permit if they wish to keep their regulated tunas (bluefin, yellowfin, bigeye, skipjack, and albacore). Vessel owners/operators should check their state regulations regarding the retention of sharks, swordfish, and/or billfish in state waters.
Old 01-09-2017, 09:00 AM
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KBH is not wrong in our area(Southeast FL). If you're fishing within 3 miles of shore in state waters and not planning on harvesting a sailfish then you are good to go. In federal waters you don't need one either unless you're going to harvest the fish listed. It's highly unusual and unlikely for anyone fishing SE florida to catch any of the species on the HMS permit and when the bluefin are around which is super rare the season for them is closed anyways. Not many fisherman in the SE even know the regulated season on bluefin and actually landing one on the typical reef or kite fishing gear used down here is so unlikely its not even worth discussing. If sword fishing thats a different story and you'll need one. Some of the by catch of sword fishing is bigeye and bluefin although rare it does happen. It's 20 bucks so if it makes you feel better get one. Ive never been asked for one when we've been stopped by FWC or any of the other agencies patrolling the water down here. I have one b/c I swordfish a lot.
Old 01-09-2017, 09:09 AM
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I guess I am one of the rare few who has been asked the produce my hms permit for skipjack that we kept. This was at the ramp. I think we were the only boat to not get a ticker for something and it was one of the last things they asked for. It was FWC and I wondered if they even had federal jurisdiction. Either we had it and went home ticket free.

Last edited by demjjm; 01-09-2017 at 10:13 AM.
Old 01-09-2017, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by 85diver View Post
KBH is not wrong in our area(Southeast FL). If you're fishing within 3 miles of shore in state waters and not planning on harvesting a sailfish then you are good to go. In federal waters you don't need one either unless you're going to harvest the fish listed. It's highly unusual and unlikely for anyone fishing SE florida to catch any of the species on the HMS permit and when the bluefin are around which is super rare the season for them is closed anyways. Not many fisherman in the SE even know the regulated season on bluefin and actually landing one on the typical reef or kite fishing gear used down here is so unlikely its not even worth discussing. If sword fishing thats a different story and you'll need one. Some of the by catch of sword fishing is bigeye and bluefin although rare it does happen. It's 20 bucks so if it makes you feel better get one. Ive never been asked for one when we've been stopped by FWC or any of the other agencies patrolling the water down here. I have one b/c I swordfish a lot.

I am not that excited about skipjack tuna but I do catch a fair number of them in South Florida. I would expect that some of the southeast FL fishermen run into the Skippies also.
Old 01-09-2017, 01:47 PM
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I was just doing my renewal on an HMS Permit and did some research for a specific question on the definition of "fish for" and whether an intent to only "catch and release" HMS species would require a permit. In my case, I was more concerned about catch and release of sharks greater than 3 miles from shore. Otherwise it's usually Blackfin tuna we encounter and they don't fall under the managed species.

I found this:

https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/faqs#faq21
Q:Is there a description of an HMS Angling category permit?
A:Yes, owners/operators of vessels fishing recreationally, even catch and release, for Atlantic HMS (sharks, swordfish, billfish, and tunas) in the Atlantic, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, must obtain an HMS Angling category permit. This permit is for recreational fishing only, no sale of catch is permitted. This permit allows a vessel to participate in registered recreational HMS fishing
Now, there is admittedly a difference between law, regulation, and what is simply some language on the FAQ of a website. But this is the first instance where I saw actual "clarification" of this question regarding catch and release applicability for the HMS permit. Everything else I read used the language like "fish for and/or retain". Technically you could claim your intent was not to fish for a certain species, which you then inadvertently caught and released. However, I think any reasonable person would normally define catch and release fishing to be "fishing for" the same.

The above question was regarding the HMS Angling category permit, and not he HMS Charter/Headboat category permit, which I operate under. That answer uses the "fishing for and/or retaining" language without specific mention of "catch and release". One could very easily infer that "catch and release" is likewise meant to be included because of the phrase used elsewhere.

I'm not interested in a court battle to determine the letter of the law, and for $20 it's relatively painless insurance against making a mistake.

However, I will say that this only just begins to highlight the complexity of the federal fishing permit system to the point of angler confusion. Laws should be as simple, clear, and concise as possible. In my case, I need not only the HMS Charter/Headboat category permit, but also *3* other permits covering other species (Dolphin/Wahoo, Snapper/Grouper, and Coastal Migratory Pelagic). Oh, yeah, in addition to your already issued merchant mariner's license, you still also need to obtain a SERO "Operators Card". Of course there is the state charter permit to go along with all this. Don't worry, all of these permits will expire on different days so you'll have the added excitement of maintaining a calendar just for renewing your permits!

This is all for recreational charters catching under the regular recreational bag limit, not commercial fishing for sale. That requires an additional handful of permits, many of which are no longer issued but have to be purchased from other permit holders and merged 2 for 1 to apply to the new owner/vessel.

I used to think the hardest part of fishing was just finding the fish. Now I realize it's wading through the murky marsh of bureaucracy to find the permits you need.

Sorry, just a bit sour after spending literally hours reading up on permits to make sure I'm doing the right thing. But hopefully the info above on "catch and release" helps someone else answer the same question I had.
Old 01-09-2017, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Lobstercatcher229 View Post
I am not that excited about skipjack tuna but I do catch a fair number of them in South Florida. I would expect that some of the southeast FL fishermen run into the Skippies also.
Ya skipjacks get caught on occasion when the blackfin are thick usually in spring. I know some people keep em to eat. I personally don't eat them but I'll keep em for sword baits. Skipjack tuna are the ones with black straight stripes on the belly not to be confused with bonita (false albacore/little tuny) which have the squiggly lines on the back and are not on the HMS list.

Old 01-09-2017, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by redphish View Post
I was just doing my renewal on an HMS Permit and did some research for a specific question on the definition of "fish for" and whether an intent to only "catch and release" HMS species would require a permit. In my case, I was more concerned about catch and release of sharks greater than 3 miles from shore. Otherwise it's usually Blackfin tuna we encounter and they don't fall under the managed species.

I found this:

https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/faqs#faq21
Q:Is there a description of an HMS Angling category permit?
A:Yes, owners/operators of vessels fishing recreationally, even catch and release, for Atlantic HMS (sharks, swordfish, billfish, and tunas) in the Atlantic, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, must obtain an HMS Angling category permit. This permit is for recreational fishing only, no sale of catch is permitted. This permit allows a vessel to participate in registered recreational HMS fishing
Now, there is admittedly a difference between law, regulation, and what is simply some language on the FAQ of a website. But this is the first instance where I saw actual "clarification" of this question regarding catch and release applicability for the HMS permit. Everything else I read used the language like "fish for and/or retain". Technically you could claim your intent was not to fish for a certain species, which you then inadvertently caught and released. However, I think any reasonable person would normally define catch and release fishing to be "fishing for" the same.

The above question was regarding the HMS Angling category permit, and not he HMS Charter/Headboat category permit, which I operate under. That answer uses the "fishing for and/or retaining" language without specific mention of "catch and release". One could very easily infer that "catch and release" is likewise meant to be included because of the phrase used elsewhere.

I'm not interested in a court battle to determine the letter of the law, and for $20 it's relatively painless insurance against making a mistake.

However, I will say that this only just begins to highlight the complexity of the federal fishing permit system to the point of angler confusion. Laws should be as simple, clear, and concise as possible. In my case, I need not only the HMS Charter/Headboat category permit, but also *3* other permits covering other species (Dolphin/Wahoo, Snapper/Grouper, and Coastal Migratory Pelagic). Oh, yeah, in addition to your already issued merchant mariner's license, you still also need to obtain a SERO "Operators Card". Of course there is the state charter permit to go along with all this. Don't worry, all of these permits will expire on different days so you'll have the added excitement of maintaining a calendar just for renewing your permits!

This is all for recreational charters catching under the regular recreational bag limit, not commercial fishing for sale. That requires an additional handful of permits, many of which are no longer issued but have to be purchased from other permit holders and merged 2 for 1 to apply to the new owner/vessel.

I used to think the hardest part of fishing was just finding the fish. Now I realize it's wading through the murky marsh of bureaucracy to find the permits you need.

Sorry, just a bit sour after spending literally hours reading up on permits to make sure I'm doing the right thing. But hopefully the info above on "catch and release" helps someone else answer the same question I had.

I would think this would effect the people who are in the keys and north Palm beach and the reef, which is the primary area where a lot of these fish are targeted, is outside of the 3 mile state waters limit.

Put simply, if you are fishing within state waters and not harvesting fish on the HMS list then you are good to fish without the HMS permit and it is legal. HMS is federal and applies to fisherman engaged in fishing throughout federal waters not state waters. Once you venture into federal waters and you are fishing whether catch and release or to harvest then you need the HMS permit.

This area was always confusing to me but when I was chartering a lot a few years ago I specifically learned about this whole state/federal fishing thing when the feds decided to close deep water grouper and tilefish in federal waters but did not do so in state waters. There are a few areas in southeast FL that the depths are near 500 feet within state waters and you can target deep water groupers in state waters legally. It pays to do the proper research in the areas where we fish but I agree it is frustrating at times to wade through all the bureaucratic verbiage that often clouds up the rules we are trying to follow.

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