Pilot Programme for Bluefin Tuna Data Collection

Bluefin Tuna, Donegal Bay. Photo courtesy of David Morrissey and Inland Fisheries Ireland. Authorisations will be soon be granted for 15 angling vessels to participate in Tuna CHART (Catch and Release Tagging) a pilot Bluefin Tuna Data Collection Programme. The new programme has been developed by the Marine Institute and Inland Fisheries Ireland 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

The programme will enable 15 authorised vessels to catch, tag 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 scientific work to increase knowledge of the behaviour and abundance of Bluefin Tuna in Irish waters. The Bluefin Tuna Data Collection Programme will operate on a pilot basis in 2019.

Authorisations will be granted to the 15 angling vessels from mid-August until mid-October. All skippers and trained crew have participated in training with guidance provided around fish handling, welfare, tagging and data recording. Participants in the programme will catch, tag and release Bluefin tuna while adhering to strict fish safety and handling procedures at all times.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed TD welcomed the initiative, "My Department has been working on this project for two years at both EU and domestic levels and I am happy to announce the commencement of the project this month. This initiative will allow the Marine Institute and Inland Fisheries Ireland to collect valuable data on the migratory patterns of Bluefin tuna in Irish waters in a tightly controlled environment. This project has been a wonderful example of cooperation between my Department, DCCAE, SFPA, IFI and the Marine Institute and I am looking forward to the continued development of this relationship."

Sean Canney TD, Minister with responsibility for inland fisheries said, "The angling vessels which will be receiving authorisation from my Department will contribute in a very tangible way to important data collection around Bluefin tuna as they migrate past the Irish coastline. The recreational fisheries sector is crucial in the delivery of this pilot programme and we look forward to working with all the state agencies involved and critically with the skippers and their crews who have received authorisations in providing valuable data for scientific purposes."

The Marine Institute has been engaged in international Bluefin tuna migration research since 2015. The Bluefin Tuna Data Collection Programme will build on and complement the scientific work undertaken by the Marine Institute. In partnership with DAFM, DCCAE, IFI and the SFPA, the Marine Institute has developed and provided training for authorised skippers, the organisation of on-board observers and the data collection requirements for reporting of the data to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and Inland Fisheries Ireland will undertake inspections and patrols around the coast to ensure this remains a strictly controlled fishery. Anglers wishing to engage in this fishery must only do so on a sea angling vessel specifically authorised to participate in the pilot programme. A full list of authorised skippers can be found at www.fisheriesireland.ie/bluefin.