A new scientific catch and release tagging programme for Atlantic bluefin tuna will authorise up to 25 qualifying angling skippers to participate, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) says.
As Afloat reported yesterday, the new Tuna CHART (Catch and Release Tagging) programme run by the IFI and the Marine Institute will open for applications on February 18th, with a closing date of March 6th.
The scientific catch and release fishery will run from July 1st to November 12th this year, and may also operate in 2021 and 2022, IFI says.
A pilot programme last year authorised 15 charter angling vessel skippers, who were trained to tag, measure and record bluefin data.
A total of 219 bluefin tuna were caught, tagged and released during the three months 2019 programme, IFI says.
“ As many as eight bluefins were tagged on one fishing trip,” it says, and “all tuna were carefully handled subject to strict guidelines set by the Tuna CHART programme and all were released alive”.
“Data from the tagging programme is being collated by the partnership, which also involves the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE).
The collated data will be reported to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT).
Atlantic bluefin tuna is the largest of the species and frequents Irish coastal waters to feed during its annual migration through North Atlantic waters.
“ The bluefin tuna is prized by sea anglers for its power and fighting ability and is a very valuable commercial species,” IFI says.
“The core aspect of the Tuna CHART programme is the welfare and successful release of the bluefin tuna,” it says, and authorised skippers will be required to have high specification rods, reels and line in advance of the open season.
“ Data collection for scientific research is the primary purpose of this fishery and will continue to be a key requirement for skipper participation in this scientific catch-and-release fishery. Skippers will be required to collect data on every bluefin trip undertaken and each bluefin tuna they catch, tag and release,” IFI says.
It says a call for applications for the 2020 fishing season will be announced on February 18th, 2020 and the last date for the receipt of a completed application will be 13:00 on March 6th.
Applications can be made here