Angling vessels in Donegal are amongst 22 boats to be given the go-ahead to take part in a special catch and release tagging programme.
There is no sport or commercial fishery for Bluefin tuna in Ireland.
However, authorisations are being granted for 22 charter angling vessels to participate in Tuna CHART (Catch and Release Tagging) a Bluefin Tuna Data Collection Programme.
The programme will see 22 authorised skippers catch, tag, measure and release Atlantic Bluefin tuna for data collection purposes off the Irish coast.
The authorised vessels, which are located in Cork, Clare, Galway, Sligo and Donegal will support an international scientific programme to increase knowledge of the behaviour and abundance of Bluefin Tuna in Irish waters and across its distribution generally.
The new programme, which has been 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 again in 2020 having commenced on a pilot basis in 2019.
Eamon Ryan TD, Minister with responsibility for inland fisheries said: “The 22 angling vessels authorised by my Department, increased from 15 last year, will contribute substantially to essential Bluefin tuna data collection as they migrate along the Irish coastline.
“The recreational fisheries sector is crucial in the delivery of this research programme and we look forward to continue working with all the State agencies involved. I want to acknowledge the key role of the authorised charter skippers and their crews who are bringing their unique expertise to bear on providing valuable data for scientific purposes, and the ‘citizen scientist’ anglers who will catch the fish. The fact that 209 fish were tagged last year with no mortalities is a great achievement by the skippers.”
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Barry Cowen TD welcomed the continuation of the programme.
He said “This initiative will allow the Marine Institute and Inland Fisheries Ireland to collect valuable data and improve our understanding of the migratory patterns of Bluefin tuna in Irish waters in a tightly controlled environment. This project has been an excellent example of ongoing cooperation between both Departments, SFPA, IFI and the Marine Institute and I look forward to the continued development of this relationship.”
The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and Inland Fisheries Ireland will undertake inspections and patrols around the coast to ensure this remains a strictly controlled programme.
Anglers wishing to engage in this programme must only do so on a sea angling vessel specifically authorised to participate in the pilot programme. Any person engaging in fishing for Bluefin Tuna on any vessel which is not appropriately authorised will be in breach of the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction (Bluefin Tuna) Regulations 2019 (S.I. No. 265 of 2019).
A full list of authorised skippers can be found at www.fisheriesireland.ie/bluefin .Tags: