The first Northern Ireland CHART bluefin tuna has been caught and tagged between Ballycastle and Rathlin Island.

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and DAERA launched the NI CHART (Catch And Release Tuna) programme in September, looking at the feasibility of a recreational catch and release bluefin tuna fishery in Northern Ireland waters.

There have been bluefin tuna sightings off the north and east coast of Northern Ireland over the last few years in late summer and through autumn and winter, but little is yet known about their distribution. Five skippers have been licensed in the current pilot programme, targeting bluefin from sea angling boats and collecting data.

Tagging is carried out using a traditional floy tag – a long, narrow, brightly coloured external tag with a unique reference number, inserted just below the second dorsal fin. Sightings should be reported to AFBI via:

Minister to press for Irish bluefin quota

Ireland’s marine minister Charlie McConalogue has pledged to press for a quota for bluefin tuna at the EU Fisheries Council, reports Lorna Siggins.

Large numbers of bluefin tuna have been reported by fishermen off the Irish west coast in recent years, but Ireland has no quota to catch the species. A catch and release programme is run for anglers in Irish waters.

Mr McConalogue noted that an increased TAC for bluefin tuna has been agreed as part of a new management plan adopted at the recent International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting – and that following discussions on this new plan, the UK now has a quota of 63t of bluefin tuna for 2023-2025.

“Ireland made clear to EU member states and the European Commission at the EU internal meetings during the course of last month’s ICCAT meeting that Ireland considers that there is a case for an allocation of part of the increase in the bluefin tuna quota to be made available to Ireland for a targeted fishery,” he said.

“Given the much greater prevalence of bluefin tuna in Ireland’s exclusive economic zone, this is a request that we wish to be considered at Council.

“I have therefore requested the opening of discussions at EU level to progress our case, and I will be making a formal statement to this effect at the December Agrifish Council.”

The EU share of global bluefin quota has increased in recent years to almost 20,000t, and Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain are among member states that have secured quotas.

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 £3.30 here


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