Irish data collection programme set to catch, tag and release hundreds of the world’s largest tuna in 2023
Ireland’s Tuna CHART bluefin tuna 2023 sea angling survey programme has opened for charter skippers to apply.
Anglers in Ireland will once again have the opportunity to catch and release bluefin tuna in 2023 through the continuation of the highly successful Tuna CHART catch, tag and release programme that has been in operation around our coast since 2019. Over 1,500 of the largest tuna in the world have been successfully tagged and released through the programme in the last four years. Experienced charter skippers are now invited to apply to take part in this year’s Atlantic bluefin tuna scientific survey programme of Irish waters.
Building on the successes of the Tuna CHART (CatcH And Release Tagging) programmes of 2019-2022, this scientific data collection catch and release fishery for Ireland will again operate in 2023. In 2023, a maximum of 25 authorisations may be granted to qualifying angling charter vessel skippers around the Irish coast. This fishery will open on the 1st July and close on the 12th November 2023.
The Tuna CHART programme is a collaborative data collection programme between Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and the Marine Institute (MI) in partnership with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA), the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC).
This highly successful data collection programme also presents a viable economic opportunity for a sustainable catch and release angling fishery, currently valued at a minimum of €1 million annually, for professional skippers and for rural coastal communities.
Between 2019 and 2022, some 1,500 Atlantic bluefin tuna were successfully caught, tagged, measured and released off the Irish coast by authorised charter skippers. The largest tuna tagged to date in the programme was 2.75m, weighing an estimated 372kg. All tuna were carefully managed in the water alongside the charter vessel, subject to strict guidelines set by the Tuna CHART programme, and all were released alive. Data from the tagging programme have been collated by the partnership for reporting to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT).
The core aim of the Tuna CHART programme is to collect data and tag these large fish, which is underpinned by ensuring good fish welfare, leading to successful release of the bluefin tuna. Authorised skippers will be required to collect data on every bluefin trip undertaken and each bluefin tuna they catch, tag and release and their angling and data recording expertise is an important part of the overall survey programme. Authorised skippers will also be required to have high specification rods, reels and line in advance of the open season in order to ensure that each bluefin tuna is brought alongside the vessel to be measured and tagged in the water in a timely manner prior to their subsequent release.
Anglers will have an opportunity to participate in this fishery and to contribute to this important study by chartering and fishing from authorised vessels only. 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.
Experienced charter skippers are being invited to apply to join the 2023 Tuna CHART programme between the 21st of March and the 4th of April 2023 by filling out an application form online at www.fisheriesireland.ie/bluefin
For media information
Inland Fisheries Ireland
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Interviewees are available to give further comment.
Notes to the Editor:
Background to Tuna CHART (CatcH And Release Tagging), an Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Data Collection Programme
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 now allow limited catch, tag and release of Atlantic bluefin tuna for the purpose of collecting scientific data by trained authorised skippers only.
Since the first pilot programme in 2019, a total of 1,518 bluefin tuna fish have been caught, tagged and safely released (alive).
Data collection for scientific assessment is the primary purpose of this fishery and will continue to be a key requirement for skipper participation in this scientific catch-and-release fishery. Skippers will be required to collect data on every bluefin trip undertaken and each bluefin tuna they catch, tag and release and their angling and data recording expertise is an important part of the overall survey programme.
About Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus)
The Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) is highly migratory and travels long distances in search of food and their spawning grounds.
- Atlantic bluefin tuna frequent Irish coastal waters to feed during its migration through North Atlantic waters.
- This ‘giant of the sea’ averages 2m in length but can reach lengths of 4m, weigh up to 600kg and live up to 30 years.