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“Atlantic billfish” is a generic term that includes five different species, the blue marlin, white marlin, Atlantic sailfish, longbill spearfish and roundscale spearfish. All five species are found in the New England/Mid-Atlantic region. Sailfish and spearfish are generally limited to the southern Mid-Atlantic, while blue marlin are sometimes found off southern New England and white marlin were once common off Massachusetts.
Blue marlin are the largest Atlantic billfish, and can attain weights in excess of 1,400 pounds; roundscale spearfish, on the other hand, seldom if ever break the 50-pound mark. The other three billfish species are also relatively small, with the largest individuals ever recorded weighing between 150 and 175 pounds.
All Atlantic billfish are managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service, which is guided by the decisions of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. None may be commercially harvested, although recreational anglers with an Atlantic Highly Migratory Species permit may land all billfish except longbill spearfish. Both blue and white marlin are both overfished and subject to overfishing.