Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., today announced that he has secured approval at EU and international level for the introduction of a science-based catch, tag and release fishery for Bluefin tuna for Irish recreational anglers. This scheme will complement the work on satellite tagging of bluefin tuna that is being undertaken by the Marine Institute.
Minister Creed said that “As part of the negotiations on the new international management plan for bluefin tuna in the east Atlantic, Ireland was able to secure an agreement that will allow countries like Ireland, that do not have a commercial Bluefin tuna quota, to operate a catch-tag-release fishery for gathering scientific data.” This new management plan was adopted at the 2018 International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) Annual Meeting.
Minister Creed continued “My Department is currently working with the Marine Institute and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority on a pilot project that will allow up to 15 angling vessels with trained tagging operators to target bluefin tuna in 2019. This aim of the project is to build on work undertake to date and to increase our knowledge of the behaviour and abundance of BFT in the waters off the Irish coast. It will also provide an ancillary benefit in that it will support angling tourism in peripheral coastal communities, including in particular Donegal.”
Previously, under ICCAT rules, Ireland could not allow targeted angling for bluefin tuna as we do not have a bluefin tuna quota. The changes secured by Ireland will now allow targeting for tagging purposes only by recreational anglers.
Minister Creed added “Our fishing industry has expressed concerns about the increasing numbers of Bluefin tuna in the Irish 200 miles zone and this programme will allow us to understand more about blue fin tuna – their habitat, migration patterns and concentration in waters around Ireland.”
The exact details of the pilot scheme will be developed over the coming period in consultation with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment which is responsible for angling.