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Recreational fishermen heading offshore for tilefish as of August 17, 2020 will be required to get a new permit from NOAA Fisheries first, and then finish the trip by reporting their catch.
By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.  |  July 28, 2020
Staten Island's Walt Fisher traveled to Point Pleasant, NJ for a long-range trip aboard the Voyager to the tilefish grounds where the boat found full boat limits on goldens to 45 pounds.

Beginning August 17, NOAA Fisheries will require private recreational tilefish vessels fishing north of the North Carolina/Virginia border to have a federal recreational tilefish vessel permit and file catch reports.

These changes were approved in Amendment 6 to the Tilefish Fishery Management Plan. This action is being taken to better characterize and monitor the recreational fisheries for both blueline tilefish and golden tilefish.

With this rule, private recreational vessel owners are required to obtain a Federal vessel permit to fish for and/or retain golden or blueline tilefish in the mid-Atlantic, as recommended by the Council and approved as part of Amendment 6.

Apply for your federal private recreational tilefish vessel permit through Fish Online. You must apply for this permit using our online system, as no paper applications are being offered for this permit. This new permit is required even if a vessel already holds a for-hire tilefish permit.

Private recreational tilefish anglers must also fill out and submit an electronic vessel trip report within 24 hours of returning to port for trips where tilefish were targeted and/or retained. Reports can be submitted through any NOAA Fisheries approved electronic reporting system.

According to the final rule as published in the Federal Register, the action does not change the regulations for tilefish party/charter vessels and will apply to anglers using a personal vessel to fish for and/or retain blueline or golden tilefish (however, this may be the same vessel that is used in for-hire or commercial fisheries on other trips.)

“There is no cost to obtain the private recreational tilefish vessel permit, and there are no postage costs associated with the permit or the eVTR because both will be submitted electronically,” NOAA Fisheries stated in the final rule, estimating that the initial private recreational tilefish permit applications would take an average of 45 minutes to complete and an average of five minutes to complete the eVTR.

“We expect that private recreational fishermen already have a smartphone, computer, or tablet to obtain the Federal private recreational tilefish vessel permit and submit their electronic trip report,” the rule stated, adding that many vessels fishing offshore for tilefish are likely equipped with a Global Positioning System to provide location information for the reports.

"We received 27 comments during the proposed rule. Fourteen commenters supported and 12 opposed the new measures,” the NOAA Fisheries statement noted, explaining that most of those who voiced opposition to the permitting and reporting requirements said the measures were overly burdensome, unfairly targeted recreational fishermen, were duplicative with requirements for HMS, and noted the costs associated with obtaining the proper equipment to report.

“Several commenters also noted their dissatisfaction with the different bag limits between the recreational and commercial sectors; however, that issue is not related to this action,” the statement read.

Apply for the Private Recreational Tilefish permit at the NOAA Fisheries portal, Fish Online.