Catch-and-Release programme studying Bluefin Tuna populations

Galway Daily news Skippers sought for Bluefin Tuna catch-and-release programme

Fishing vessels operating out of Ros a Mhíl and Cleggan are among those taking part in a catch-and-release programme to study the Bluefin Tuna.

This year, 22 vessels will take part in a survey of the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna to gather more information on their population level, fish size, and migratory patterns in Irish Waters off the west coast.

From July to November, the authorised vessels will tag and release hundreds of this fish under the Tuna CHART programme.

Charlie McConalogue, Minister for the Marine said, “I am delighted at the ongoing success of this programme as it allows our scientific partners in 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 programme also provides our Coastal Communities with access to a highly desired angling market that will bring a new demographic of tourists to our spectacular Wild Atlantic Way.”

Now in its third year, this programme is run by the Marine Institute in Galway, along with Inland Fisheries Ireland, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, and the Departments of the Environment and Marine.

The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is the largest species of its kind in the world, and can grow to be up to 1,500lbs.

Last year, there were 685 bluefin tuna caught, tagged, measured and released through the CHART programme. The largest example tagged in Ireland in 2020 was 2.75m long, and was estimated to weigh over 800lbs.

Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan said “The 22 angling vessels authorised by my Department 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 data collection 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.”

Anglers looking to fish for bluefin tuna in Irish waters may only do so from an authorised charter vessel from now until November 12, 2021.

The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and Inland Fisheries Ireland are undertaking inspections and patrols around the coast to ensure that no unauthorised vessels are targeting or catching bluefin tuna.