Press Release

Irish data collection programme set to catch, tag and release hundreds of the world’s largest tuna in 2024

Applications have opened today for experienced angling skippers to catch-and-release Atlantic bluefin tuna as part of a collaborative scientific survey.

The initiative targets Atlantic bluefin tuna – the world’s largest tuna species - to collect information on their sizes, and where and when they occur in Irish waters.

The programme saw recaptures for the first time in 2023, and changes in the size of the fish encountered - providing useful and positive data on this iconic and tightly managed species.

Recreational angling for Atlantic bluefin tuna is technically prohibited in Ireland.

Unauthorised vessels are not permitted to target or catch bluefin tuna and any unauthorised person found to be targeting bluefin tuna is liable to prosecution.

However, under the Tuna CHART (CatcH And Release Tagging) programme, authorised charter vessel skippers can catch, tag, and release bluefin during the open season in, with the help of anglers on board.

Atlantic bluefin tuna breaching the water surface in Donegal Bay. Photo courtesy of David Morrissey.

Skippers will be required to have high specification rods, reels and lines to ensure that each bluefin tuna is brought alongside the vessel for tagging in a timely manner, prior to their subsequent release.

In previous years all tuna were carefully managed, subject to strict guidelines set by the Tuna CHART programme, and all were released alive.

In 2023, the programme recorded:

  • Two recaptures of tagged Atlantic bluefin tuna for the first time;
  • A total of 381 bluefin tagged;
  • 239 bluefin tuna angling trips undertaken;
  • 4.5 bluefin caught per trip in the most successful week.

In 2024, a maximum of 25 authorisations may be granted to qualifying angling charter vessel skippers around the Irish coast.

This fishery will open on July 1st and close on November 12th.

Experienced charter skippers can apply to join the 2024 Tuna CHART programme between May 2nd and May 8th by completing an online application form


Notes to the Editor:

About Atlantic bluefin tuna

Atlantic bluefin tuna are highly migratory and travel long distances in search of food and spawning grounds. The tuna frequent Irish coastal waters to feed during its migration through North Atlantic waters. It averages 2m in length in Irish seas, but can surpass lengths of 4m, weigh more than 600kg, and live up to 32 years.

Background to Tuna CHART (CatcH And Release Tagging), an Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Data Collection Programme

This data collection programme on Atlantic bluefin tuna began in 2019. Almost 1,900 of the largest tuna in the world have been successfully tagged and released in Irish coastal waters through the programme since it commenced. Two bluefin were recaptured last year as part of the programme.

The Tuna CHART programme is a collaborative data collection programme between 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 of the Environment, Climate and Communications. See more on the programme here. It is part of a wider International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna's tagging programme, and the data contributes to Atlantic bluefin tuna stock status assessments.

About Inland Fisheries Ireland

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is the State's environmental agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and managing Ireland's inland fisheries and sea angling resources. Its core mission is to protect freshwater fish and their habitats. It was established under the Fisheries Act on July 1st 2010, and operates under the aegis of the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.

There are more than 320 people working at IFI in locations nationwide, and it manages a budget of approximately €39m annually. The agency has statutory responsibility for Ireland’s 74,000km of rivers and streams, together with 128,000 lake hectares. It also has a coastline patrol jurisdiction of 12 nautical miles.