Expressions of interest are now invited for Tuna CHART (CatcH and Release Tagging), a pilot Bluefin Tuna Data Collection Programme which will see 15 authorised angling vessels catch, tag and release Atlantic bluefin tuna for data collection purposes off the Irish coast.  The new programme, which is being developed by Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Marine Institute in partnership with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, will operate on a pilot basis in 2019.

Natural History Museum
Ciaran Byrne, CEO IFI and Sean Canney TD, Minister with responsibility for inland fisheries with a bluefin tuna at the Natural History Museum

Previously, under International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) rules, Ireland could not allow targeted angling for the purpose of data collection for Bluefin tuna. The changes secured by Ireland at the ICCAT 2018 Annual Meeting will now allow limited targeting of Atlantic bluefin tuna for the purpose of collecting scientific data only by recreational anglers.

Atlantic bluefin tuna is the largest tuna. It can reach a weight of over 600 kg, a length of over three metres and live for more than thirty years. It migrates past the Irish coastline during its journey from the Mediterranean and Central Atlantic.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed TD welcomed the initiative: “I warmly welcome this new pilot programme that has been developed by the Marine Institute and Inland Fisheries Ireland.  This pilot project will build on and complement the extensive scientific work undertaken in recent years by the Marine Institute and will increase our knowledge of the behaviour and abundance of BFT in the waters off the Irish coast.”

Sean Canney TD, Minister with responsibility for inland fisheries said: “This is an opportunity for charter skippers and sea anglers to contribute to data collection and to support important research.  I want to commend IFI’s involvement in this joint programme bringing to bear their expertise in the recreational fishing sector and their long standing experience in tagging marine fish”.

Applicants to the new data collection pilot programme will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • Previous experience in undertaking collaborative research and scientific work.
  • A minimum of five years’ experience of sea angling activity in Irish waters.
  • Experience in targeting large pelagic fish.
  • Equipped to target large pelagic fish.
  • Willingness to operate under specific authorisation controls.

Authorisations will be valid from mid-August until mid-October. Skippers and trained crew who receive authorisation to participate in this pilot programme will catch, tag and release Bluefin tuna while following strict fish safety and handling procedures at all times. They will be required to attend a Training Day where guidance will be provided around fish handling, welfare, tagging and data recording. All vessels will be monitored by Fisheries Observers.

This will be a strictly controlled fishery operating on a pilot basis; both the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and Inland Fisheries Ireland will undertake inspections and patrols around the coast. Any unauthorised skippers found targeting Bluefin tuna will be prosecuted and any authorised people acting outside the conditions of the authorisation or the fisheries acts will also have the authorisation revoked and be subject to legal action. Anglers may participate in the fishery by booking places on an authorised vessel.

Interested persons who wish to apply for authorisation are invited to visit to download an Information Guide and to submit an application.