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Dolphin, also frequently referred to as “mahi,” are an abundant, pelagic sport and food fish that are widespread in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate seas. They are caught throughout the Mid-Atlantic, and are often seen as far north as Massachusetts during the summer.
Although many of the dolphin encountered are “chicks” weighing less than five pounds, twenty-pound fish are far from rare, and dolphin weighing more than fifty pounds are encountered every year. They are a very fast-growing fish, and even the largest dolphin are no more than five years old.
Dolphin are managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service, through the Fishery Management Plan for Dolphin and Wahoo that is administered by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, acting in cooperation with the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils. Recreational fishermen on the Atlantic coast landed nearly 3.7 million pounds of dolphin in 2017, compared to 2016 commercial landings of less than 900,000 pounds. The dolphin stock is healthy, neither overfished nor subject to overfishing.