In 2006, NMFS authorized buoy gear as a distinct gear type that can be used to target swordfish. To fish for
swordfish with buoy gear, you need a valid commercial swordfish handgear limited access or directed swordfish limited
access permit. Incidental swordfish permit holders may not target swordfish with buoy gear.
Buoy gear is defined as a fishing gear consisting of one or more floatation devices supporting a single mainline
to which no more than two hooks or gangions are attached.
Floatation device is defined as any positively buoyant object rigged to be attached to a fishing gear.
Fishermen using buoy gear are limited to possessing or deploying no more than 35 individual floatation devices
and are required to mark each floatation device with the vessel’s name, registration number, or HMS permit number.
Buoy gear must be constructed and deployed so that the hooks are attached to the vertical portion of the mainline.
Floatation devices may be attached to one, but not both ends of the mainline, and no hooks or gangions may be attached
to any floatation device or horizontal portion of the mainline. If more than one floatation device is attached
to a buoy gear, no hook or gangion may be attached to the mainline between them. Individual buoy gears may not
be linked or connected together in any way, and all buoy gears are required to be released and retrieved by hand.
Additionally, fishermen using buoy gear must affix gear monitoring equipment to each individual buoy gear to
aid in recovery. Gear monitoring equipment may include, but is not limited to, radar reflectors, beeper devices,
lights, or reflective tape. If only reflective tape is used, the vessel deploying the gear must possess an operable
spotlight capable of illuminating deployed buoys. If a gear monitoring device is positively buoyant and rigged
to be attached to a fishing gear, it would be included in the 35 floatation device vessel limit and would be required
to be marked appropriately.
For more information see Guide for Complying with the Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, Sharks, and Billfish Regulations