With the first ever commercial bluefin tuna fishery due to open last week, on 1 August, there were high hopes that the cover of this week’s Fishing News would be able to show pictures of the historic first landing in the fishery.

Instead, unseasonable gales saw the 10 vessels that had received licences from the MMO, for a small rod and line fishery, hunkered in ports across the South West.

There has been a mixed reaction to the way the opening of the fishery has been managed. Several of the lucky vessel owners who were notified that they had been allocated one of the 10 licences had yet to receive their paperwork allowing them to go to sea as the season opened.

In addition, delay in the allocation of licences has meant that for the vessels approved, there has been a scramble to buy and install the necessary gear, which costs several thousand pounds per vessel, with owners understandably reluctant to purchase gear until they knew they would be allowed to enter the fishery.

A vital part of the fishery is the correct handling of the catch, from the moment of hooking until safely bled, iced, packed and ashore with specialist buyers. With this in mind, the South West Handline Fishermen’s Association, whose members have been allocated four of the 10 pilot licences, held a training session on Saturday for its members, to ensure that the full benefits of the fishery can be achieved.

Pictured here is skipper Chris Gill, whose vessel Aquila, based in Mevagissey, was due to receive its licence as we went to press. He has made much of his own terminal tackle for the fishery, as we’ll discuss in a future issue.

With forecasts for a more seasonal high pressure to move in over the week, we hope to bring a cover picture of the first bluefin tuna landed in next week’s issue, as well as full details of the prices and sales destination of an iconic species that fetches huge prices in Japan for correctly handled fish.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.50 here

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