Fifteen angling vessels will soon be granted authorisation to participate in Tuna CHART (Catch and Release Tagging), a pilot Bluefin Tuna Data Collection Programme.
As previously reported for Afloat.ie by Lorna Siggins, the programme will see the 15 authorised vessels catch, tag and release Atlantic bluefin tuna for data collection purposes off the Irish coast.
These vessels, which are located in Cork, Clare, Galway, Sligo and Donegal, will support scientific work to increase knowledge of the behaviour and abundance of bluefin tuna in Irish waters — which currently do not host a sport or commercial fishery for the species.
The new programme, which has been developed by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and the Marine Institute in partnership with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA), the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE), will operate on a pilot basis this year.
Authorisations will be granted from mid-August until mid-October, and all skippers and trained crew have participated in training with guidance provided around fish handling, welfare, tagging and data recording.
Participants in the programme will catch, tag and release bluefin tuna while adhering to strict fish safety and handling procedures at all times.
Marine Minister Michael Creed has welcomed the initiative. “My department has been working on this project for two years at both EU and domestic levels and I am happy to announce the commencement of the project this month,” he said.
“This initiative will allow the Marine Institute and Inland Fisheries Ireland to collect valuable data on the migratory patterns of bluefin tuna in Irish waters in a tightly controlled environment.
“This project has been a wonderful example of co-operation between my department, DCCAE, SFPA, IFI and the Marine Institute and I am looking forward to the continued development of this relationship.”
Sean Canney, Minister with responsibility for inland fisheries, added: “The angling vessels which will be receiving authorisation from my department will contribute in a very tangible way to important data collection around Bluefin tuna as they migrate past the Irish coastline.
“The recreational fisheries sector is crucial in the delivery of this pilot programme and we look forward to working with all the State agencies involved and critically with the skippers and their crews who have received authorisations in providing valuable data for scientific purposes.”
The SFPA and IFI will undertake inspections and patrols around the coast to ensure this remains a strictly controlled fishery.
Anglers wishing to engage in this fishery must only do so on a sea angling vessel specifically authorised to participate in the pilot programme. Any person engaging in this fishery on any vessel which is not appropriately authorised will be in breach of the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction (Bluefin Tuna) Regulations 2019 (SI No 265 of 2019).