NOAA Fisheries Announces Changes to Catch Levels, Sector Allocations, Accountability Measures, and Management Measures for Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery of the Atlantic

NOAA Fisheries announces the final rule for Amendment 10 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery of the Atlantic (Dolphin Wahoo Amendment 10).  Dolphin Wahoo Amendment 10 and the final rule will revise the acceptable biological catch, annual catch limits, sector allocations, accountability measures, and management measures for dolphin and wahoo.

The management measures address:

  • commercial trip limits,
  • authorized fishing gear,
  • the operator permit (card) requirement for dolphin and wahoo, and
  • the recreational vessel limit for dolphin.

When Rule Will Take Effect:

Regulations become effective May 2, 2022.

 Summary of Changes:

  • The changes will apply to the dolphin and wahoo fishery in federal waters from Maine, south to the Florida Keys in the Atlantic.


Catch levels (pounds [lbs] whole weight [ww])
Total Annual Catch Limit(= Acceptable Biological Catch)24,570,764 lbs ww
Sector allocations (percent [%] of total annual catch limit)
Sector annual catch limits (pounds [lbs] whole weight [ww])
Commercial1,719,953 lbs ww
Recreational22,850,811 lbs ww
Recreational Vessel Limits*(excluding Headboats)
54 per vessel

**The 10 dolphin per person per day recreational bag limit will remain unchanged for all recreational vessels (private, charter vessels, and headboats).


Catch levels (pounds [lbs] whole weight [ww])
Total Annual Catch Limit(= Acceptable Biological Catch)2,885,303 lbs ww
Sector allocations (percent [%] of total annual catch limit)
Sector annual catch limits (pounds [lbs] whole weight [ww])
Commercial70,690 lbs ww
Recreational2,814,613 lbs ww

Recreational Accountability Measures:

Post-season recreational accountability measures will be triggered in the following fishing year if:


  • The total annual catch limit is exceeded.


  • The recreational annual catch limits are constant and the 3-year geometric mean of landings exceeds the recreational annual catch limit.

Recreational post-season accountability measures for both dolphin and wahoo after the trigger:

  • Reduction in the length of the following recreational fishing season by the amount necessary to prevent the recreational annual catch limit from being exceeded in the following year.

Commercial trip limits:

  • Currently, a person in the exclusive economic zone may only have certain authorized gear onboard when they are in possession of dolphin and wahoo.
  • Trap, pot, and buoy gear are not authorized gear.
  • Some fishermen want to harvest dolphin while in the possession of lobster pots.
  • This final rule will allow for a new category of commercial trip limits for dolphin and wahoo based on a proposed authorized gear exemption for trap, pot, and buoy gear, and the trip limit would be 500 pounds (lbs) gutted weight of dolphin and 500 lbs of wahoo.
  • There currently is an incidental commercial trip limit of 200 lbs of dolphin and wahoo, combined weight, for vessels that do not have a dolphin wahoo commercial permit but do have another federal commercial permit and catch the species north of the 39 degrees north latitude. This trip limit will not be able to be combined with the commercial trip limit with the authorized gear allowance.

Operator cards:

  • The current requirements for operator cards and permitted operators for both the dolphin and wahoo commercial and charter vessel/headboat permitted vessels will be removed.

Goals and Objectives:

  • The revised goals and objectives seek to manage the dolphin and wahoo fishery using a precautionary approach that maintains access, minimizes competition, preserves the social and economic importance of the fishery, as well as promotes research and incorporation of ecosystem considerations where practicable.