Can a billfish be legally taken out of the water for any reason in State or Federal waters other than to "take" it with an HMS permit??
What if you do not have an HMS permit? Would removing it from the water be considering "taking" it and therefore illegal?
There has been a bit of disagreement in the SE General forums about this. A report with a white Marlin laying across the laps of two anglers in the cockpit of their boat was "featured" in the SE Forum. Many objected to this, including myself.http://forums.floridasportsman.com/showthread.php?191750-Pictures-of-Billfish-Out-of-the-Water&p=2413081#post2413081
The offending picture:http://forums.floridasportsman.com/showthread.php?191587-TOM-AKA-MR-MARLIN-SLI-5-17-ANOTHER-MARLIN-OUT-OF-SLI
If you take it from the water to remove the hook or for pictures it is considered a take and must be reported to the HMS call in line, along with its LJFL measurement. Truth is, the people I know at NMFS HMS division, regularly go on this forum to look for unreported billfish and swordfish. Its pretty easy to look at a white marlin, with a dated report and then go to the records to see if it was reported. Usually you have the name and or boat name for investigation. Also , usually you just get a phone call with a warning.
There have been instances on this forum where for instance an picture of two snowy grouper has resulted in a personal visit from FWC. In the case I am familiar with a charter operator in the keys made the post and had a visit within hours.
In most cases, you can only take a legal fish from the water and then only if you plan to take it. This also includes fish like tarpon in state waters.
Certainly make you wonder about the Wicked Tuna guys who harpoon a Bluefin Tuna and measure it at 73" which is the legal size limit for commercial take. I know you get good at estimating size of fish that you go for all the time, but I'm sure a few harpooned fish have been pushed back in the water and edited out of the video!
I just came across this thread.
The rule can be found the federal code of regulations:
Title 50 → Chapter VI → Part 635 → Subpart C → §635.21
§635.21 Gear operation, restricted areas, and deployment restrictions.
(a) All Atlantic HMS fishing gears. (1) An Atlantic HMS harvested from its management unit that is not retained must be released in a manner that will ensure maximum probability of survival, but without removing the fish from the water.
(2) If a billfish is caught by a hook and not retained, the fish must be released by cutting the line near the hook or by using a dehooking device, in either case without removing the fish from the water.
It can also be found on page 9 of the compliance guide:
Well did that convince you>
I do not judge, but I have served on the HMS advisory panel for nearly 12 years, solely to help disseminate information to my fellow anglers. I do not judge you but if I see a mistake that is violation of the law, I try to help people know what is allowed.
Honestly most comply with the law and if a mistake is brought to their attention they correct and modify their actions.