While not overfished, the Council has adopted a precautionary and risk-averse approach to management for this fishery. The South Atlantic Council, in cooperation with the Mid-Atlantic and New England Councils, has developed a Dolphin Wahoo Fishery Management Plan for the Atlantic.

Recognizing the significant importance of the dolphin wahoo fishery to the recreational fishing community in the Atlantic, the goal of the plan is to maintain the current harvest levels of dolphin and ensure that no new fisheries develop.  With the potential for effort shifts in the historical commercial longline fisheries for sharks, tunas, and swordfish, these shifts or expansions into nearshore coastal waters to target dolphin could compromise the historical (1994-1997) and current allocation of the dolphin resource between recreational and commercial fishermen.

History of Management – Dolphin and Wahoo

Fishery Management Plan / Amendments

Recreational Dophin

Fishery Management Plan for the Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery of the Atlantic (2004)


Notice of Availability   Proposed Rule

Under Development

To see a list of all amendments currently under development in all the Council's Fishery Management Plans, click here!

Amendment 10 (in progress)

  • Dolphin allocation options (gear based allocations for commercial sector & allocation shifts)


Amendment 12 (in progress)

  • Adding bullet and frigate mackerel as Ecosystem Component Species to the plan

Completed Amendments

Amendment(Year Submitted)

Regulatory Amendment 1 (2016)

Summary of Major Actions(Refer to Proposed & Final Rules for details)

Established a commercial trip limit for Atlantic dolphin for vessels with a Federal commercial permit for Atlantic dolphin and wahoo.

Proposed & Final Rules

Proposed Rule

Final Rule

Effective Date

March 21, 2017 (prior effective date was January 30, 2017; see Fishery Bulletin)

Amendment 1 (2010)

The amendment was included under Comprehensive Ecosystem Based Amendment 1 (CE-BA 1) and presented spatial information of Council-designated Essential Fish Habitat and Essential Fish Habitat-Habitat Areas of Particular Concern relative to the dolphin wahoo fishery.

Amendment 2 (2011)

The amendment and the following regulations were effective on April 16, 2012. The amendment was included in the Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment.

  1. Established ABCs, ACLs, AMs, and allocations for both commercial and recreational sectors;
  2. Established ACTs for the recreational sector;
  3. Prohibited bag limit sales of dolphin from "for-hire" vessels; and
  4. Established a minimum size limit of 20" FL for South Carolina.
Amendment 3 (2014)

The amendment was included under the Joint Generic Dealer amendment in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. The amendment requires federal dealer permits and changes the frequency and method of reporting.

Amendment 4 (in progress)

The amendment was included under the Joint Generic Commercial Logbook Reporting Amendment and would change the method of reporting commercial catches in the region with regard to dolphin and wahoo.

Amendment 5 (2013)

The amendment addresses the following management measures for the fishery:
Revisions to acceptable biological catch estimates (ABCs), annual catch limits (ACLs) (including sector ACLs), recreational annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs) implemented through the Comprehensive ACL Amendment; modifications to the sector allocations for dolphin; revisions to the framework procedure in the Dolphin Wahoo FMP; and commercial trip limits for dolphin. The amendment went out for public hearing in August 2013 and is expected to be submitted for final approval at the September 2013 Council meeting.

Amendment & Appendices  
Notice of Availability February 28, 2014
Proposed Rule March 14, 2014
Final Rule June 9, 2014
Implementation Effective July 9, 2014
Amendment 6 (2014)

The amendment was included under the Generic charter/headboat reporting amendment, that would modify required logbook reporting for headboat vessels regarding dolphin and wahoo landings.

Amendment 7/ Snapper Grouper Amendment 33

Allowed dolphin and wahoo fillets to enter the U.S. EEZ after lawful harvest in The Bahamas; -Specified the condition of any dolphin, wahoo, and snapper-grouper fillets;  described how the recreational bag limit is determined for any fillets; explicitly prohibited the sale or purchase of any dolphin, wahoo, or snapper grouper recreationally harvested in The Bahamas; specified the required documentation to be onboard any vessels that have these fillets; specified transit and stowage provisions for any vessels with fillets. Click here for the document.

Amendment 8/ Snapper Grouper Amendment 34

Modify Accountability Measures for snapper grouper species and the golden crab fishery; adjust sector allocations for dolphin. Click here for the document.

Amendment(Year Submitted)

Dolphin Wahoo Amendment 9 (2016)

Summary of Major Actions(Refer to Proposed & Final Rules for details)

For-Hire Electronic Reporting Requirements for Charter/Headboat Atlantic Dolphin/Wahoo Permit Holders.

Proposed & Final Rules

Proposed Rule

Final Rule

Effective Date

January 4, 2021