Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., announced earlier this week 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 compliment the work on satellite tagging of blue fin tuna that is being under taken by the Marine Institute.

Photo by Declan Kilgannon on Kiwi Girl during the 51st. World Boat Angling Championships on Donegal Bay

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 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 blue fin tuna in 2019.  This aim of the project is to build on work undertaken 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 blue fin tuna as we do not have a blue fin 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.