Fishers in Washington have been harvesting albacore tuna commercially for over 100 years. The majority of albacore landed into Washington are caught almost exclusively by trollers. Fishing typically takes place 50 to 100 nautical miles offshore in warm currents that travel up to Washington and Oregon. The majority of the catch landed into Washington is caught south of Washington, with only about 20 percent caught off the Washington coast.
Landings, Effort, and Value
Commercial landings of albacore tuna into Washington have ranged from a low of 4,161 metric tons (mt) in 2018 to 8,774 mt in 2012 in the last decade, with an average of 6,865 metric tons. Price per lb of albacore has similarly varied from $1.17/lb to $2.09/lb. The average price in 2018 was $1.61/lb. Approximately 200 to 300 vessels land albacore into Washington ports each year, with the majority being landed into Westport followed by Ilwaco/Chinook.
For additional landings and effort information, please see the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s HMS SAFE Report. For current year’s data, please visit the PacFIN APEX reporting portal and select one of the HMS reports on the left hand side.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council adopted a fishery management plan (FMP) for highly migratory species (HMS) fisheries. The stocks covered under the plan are: striped marlin, swordfish, common thresher shark, pelagic thresher shark, bigeye thresher shark, shortfin mako shark, blue shark, dorado (mahi mahi or dolphinfish), and five species of tuna—north Pacific albacore, yellowfin, bigeye, skipjack, and northern bluefin.
As part of the implementing regulations for the HMS FMP, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is requiring that all vessels fishing for HMS apply for a permit and maintain logbooks. The purpose of this fact sheet is to provide information on the permit and logbook requirements, and the process for obtaining permits and logbooks. Additional information on the other HMS FMP regulations are posted on the NMFS West Coast Region website.
What are the Highly Migratory Species (HMS) permit requirements?
Any commercial fishing vessel of the United States must be registered for use under an HMS permit that authorizes the use of specific gear, and a recreational charter vessel must be registered for use under an HMS permit if that vessel is used to fish for HMS in the EEZ (3-200 miles) off the states of Washington, Oregon, or California; or to land or transship HMS shoreward of the outer boundary of the EEZ. The final rule requires issuance of an HMS permit to a vessel owner for each specific commercial or recreational charter fishing vessel with an endorsement for a specific HMS gear type.
Is proof of previous fishing effort and/or landings needed to qualify for an HMS permit?
No. At this time, there are no qualification criteria, such as minimum landings, to obtain HMS permits or specific HMS gear endorsements.
Is there a cost for the permit?
At this time, there is no cost for the permit. NMFS, however, is reviewing national policy pertaining to the issuance and administration of fishing permits and, should any future modifications be considered, they will be instituted through the federal rulemaking process. This process includes publication of a proposed rule in the Federal Register and opportunity for public comment and input.
How do I get a permit and what is the deadline for doing so?
Permits must be obtained before beginning HMS fishing activity. Persons who want a permit must apply by contacting the NMFS, West Coast Region, at (562) 980-4238. The application can also be downloaded from the West Coast Region homepage.
How do I display my permit once it has been issued?
The HMS permit must be onboard the vessel at all times and must be available for inspection upon the request of an authorized officer, unless the permit was issued while the vessel was at sea. If issued while the vessel was at sea, then the permit must be onboard and available for inspection during any subsequent trip.
When will my permit expire and how do I renew it?
Permits are valid for two years from date of issuance. Permit holders will receive a renewal notice approximately 90 days prior to the permit expiration date. The permit holder will review the information provided by the notice, make any necessary changes, and return it to the NMFS permit office before the permit expiration date.
The first permit expiration date will occur during the second calendar year after the permit is issued, on the last day of the month, which corresponds to the last digit of the vessel identification number. For example, for permits issued in 2005, if the vessel identification number ends in “8,” then the first expiration of the permit will occur on August 31, 2007. Thereafter, the permit will expire every two years on Aug. 31.
Catch, effort, and catch disposition are critical for monitoring Highly Migratory Species (HMS) fisheries, assessing the status of the stocks, and evaluating the effectiveness of management. All commercial fishing and recreational charter vessels are required to maintain logbooks. All information specified on the logbook forms must be recorded on the forms within 24 hours after the completion of each fishing day.
Vessels are required to submit original (white copies) of form LS within 30 days after each trip and FP once a year to:
National Marine Fisheries Service
8901 La Jolla Shores Dr.
La Jolla, CA 92037
The original logsheet form for each day of the fishing trip must be submitted to National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) by the last day of the month following the month of fishing (e.g., completed logsheets for fishing activity conducted in July must be received by August 31). Completed logsheets should be mailed to:
NMFS SWFSC- Attn: Albacore Logbook Program
8901 La Jolla Shores Dr.
La Jolla, CA 92037