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Bluefin Tuna ‘Catch-Tag-Release’ Scientific Survey Programme Opens for Charter Skippers

4th February 2022
Bluefin tuna in Donegal Bay
Bluefin tuna in Donegal Bay Credit: David Morrissey

Experienced charter skippers can now apply for Ireland’s 2022 bluefin tuna scientific survey programme, as scientists confirm that over 1,100 of the largest tuna in the world have been successfully tagged and released through the programme in the last three years.

Building on the successes of the Tuna CHART (CatcH And Release Tagging) programmes of 2019-2021, this scientific data collection catch and release fishery for Ireland will operate again this year, subject to Covid-19 restrictions.

A maximum of 25 authorisations may be granted to qualifying angling charter vessel skippers around the Irish coast for the fishery, which will open on 1 July and close on 12 November.

The Tuna CHART programme is a collaborative scientific programme between Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Marine Institute in partnership with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and Department of Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC).

Between 2019 and 2021, some 1,136 Atlantic bluefin tuna were caught, tagged, measured and released off the Irish coast by authorised charter skippers. The largest tuna tagged to date in the programme was 2.75 metres, 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 aspect of the Tuna CHART programme is the welfare and successful release of the bluefin tuna. Authorised skippers will be required to have high specification rods, reels and line in advance of the open season in order to ensure that the fish is brought alongside the vessel to be measured and tagged in the water in a timely manner.

Anglers will have an opportunity to participate in this fishery and contribute to this important scientific 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 2022 Tuna CHART programme between Monday 14 and Monday 28 February by filling out an application form online at www.fisheriesireland.ie/bluefin

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