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Bluefin Tuna Anglers Should Put Conservation First

4th October 2013
Bluefin Tuna Anglers Should Put Conservation First

#Angling - Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has urged marine sport anglers to put conservation first when it comes to the endangered bluefin tuna - particularly those in the tuna hotspot of Donegal Bay.

In a statement, the national fisheries body said: "For a long time, Ireland has been recognised for its marine sport fishing. The vast variety and quality of our angling has given the country a reputation of which we are justly proud."

Bluefin tuna catches by the commercial fishing fleet targeting other species were first reported in the 1980s, and such reports became quite common on the west coast by the mid 1990s, though no fish fell to rod and line until 2000. 

The following year, a new Irish and European record was set by Adrian Mulloy, fishing with skipper Michael Callaghan. On the 5 October 2001 Adrian caught a fish of 968lbs near Rathlin O’Beirne Island.

In 2002 and 2003, more bluefin tuna were caught and one boat contributed to the 'Tag a Giant' programme run by Stanford University and supported in Ireland by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

"While these were heady days for big game fishing in Ireland, it all happened against the backdrop of a global decline in a species that is now famously threatened by overfishing," said IFI.

In 2012, European regulations governing the harvesting of bluefin tuna were changed as the species became even more endangered. 

Ireland does not have a bluefin tuna quota, and for this reason "no allocation is available for sports or recreational fishing," said the IFI statement. "Furthermore, there is no facility in Irish fisheries regulations to permit angler-caught bluefin tuna to be landed into any Irish port, and there is no provision for the sale of these fish. 

"While IFI would love to see the development of a sustainable fishery for this wonderful species, given the continued significant decline of the species and the fragile nature of the stock, the key imperative has to be one of conservation."

Published in Angling
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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