ALSO KNOWN AS:
In 1984, the Council developed a plan in cooperation with NOAA Fisheries, the New England and
South Atlantic Councils, and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The plan was
rejected but concern for the resource remained as the population was declining. A new
management plan was approved in 1990, but the population still fell to a low in 1996.
A coastwide, collaborative research group began studying the dynamics of the coastal bluefish
population to help aid management of this important species. Managers implemented a rebuilding
plan for the stock in 2001, including a number of harvest restrictions designed to rebuild the stock
by 2010. Thanks to these measures and the hard work of scientists and fishermen, the bluefish
population gradually increased and was determined to have been rebuilt by 2007 - 3 years ahead of
schedule. The Mid-Atlantic Council and the Commission continue to cooperatively manage bluefish
to maintain its rebuilt status.
LOCATION & HABITAT
Bluefish live in temperate and tropical coastal oceans around the world, except in the eastern
Pacific. On the East Coast, bluefish are found from Maine to eastern Florida. Bluefish gather
together by size in schools that can cover tens of square miles of ocean, equivalent to 10,000
football fields. They migrate seasonally, moving north in spring and summer as water temperatures
rise and then south in autumn and winter to waters in the South Atlantic Bight.
Bluefish release their eggs in the open ocean. Once hatched, larvae develop into juveniles near the
surface in continental shelf waters and eventually move to estuarine and nearshore shelf habitats.
Juveniles prefer sandy bottoms but will also inhabit mud, silt, or clay bottoms or vegetated areas.
Adults live in both inshore and offshore areas and favor warmer water.
Bluefish have a moderately long life, up to 14 years. They grow fast, up to 31 pounds and 39 inches.
They’re able to reproduce at age 2, when they’re 15 to 20 inches in length. Depending on their size,
females can have between 400,000 and 2 million eggs. Bluefish spawn multiple times in spring
Bluefish exhibit feeding behavior called the “bluefish blitz,” where large schools of big fish attack
bait fish near the surface, churning the water like a washing machine. They feed voraciously on their
prey, eating almost anything they can catch and swallow. Bluefish have razor-sharp teeth and
shearing jaws that allow them to ingest large parts, increasing the maximum size of the prey they
can eat. They like to eat squid and fish, particularly menhaden and smaller fish such as silversides.
Sharks, tunas, and billfishes are typically the only predators large and fast enough to prey on adult
bluefish. Bluefish make up a major part of the diet of shortfin mako shark and are also very
important in the diets of swordfish. Oceanic birds prey on juvenile bluefish.
Bluefish are blue-green on the back and silvery on the sides and belly. They have a pointed snout
and a prominent jaw, with sharp, compressed teeth.
Bluefish Saltwater Fishing Regulation
Bluefish - Fishery
Bluefish - Seafood
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