Bluefin tuna: government give go ahead for “citizen science” fishery

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Fish&Fly
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Issued by the Angling Trust:

A science-based recreational bluefin tuna fishery has been given the green light by Defra. This news, welcomed by anglers, was secured by Bluefin Tuna UK, with the support of the Angling Trust. On 23rd April 2021, Cefas and Defra confirmed that an English CatcH And Release Tagging (CHART) program for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna will operate in the waters of the South and West in Autumn 2021.

Steve Murphy of Bluefin Tuna UK said “This is a great result. After years of painstaking work, we have opened up an opportunity, not only to support work to increase our understanding of bluefin, but to show the enormous economic opportunity a recreational bluefin fishery can bring to coastal communities. The process that has brought us to this point has been exhaustive and lengthy. Two three-month consultation periods comprised dozens of calls, tens of thousands of words of detailed submissions, contributions from a range of outside experts including scientist with decades of experience with the species, and several involved in existing CHART programs in Ireland and Scandinavia.”

This angler led, licensed and scientifically valuable program will join Ireland, Denmark and Sweden in providing hugely valuable scientific knowledge. The English Tuna CHART program will enable anglers to deliver important data to help us understand and protect this species in the future. It will play a vital role in the decisions the UK Government will be making next year regarding future strategy and policy options for Atlantic Bluefin, including a possible licensed Recreational Live Release Fishery. CHART data will also inform the species global management body, ICCAT (The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas), in their global management and policy decisions over the coming years.

Murphy said, “Our campaign with the Angling Trust and the acceptance of CHART by Defra and Cefas has resulted in a high-quality program design that will delivery great scientific insight, the beginnings of valuable socio-economic contributions, and an opportunity for anglers to legally catch bluefin in a safe, professional environment with trained and authorised skippers and crew.”

The English Tuna CHART program will allow up to 15 charter boat skippers – selected through a competitive application process – to take paying recreational anglers to sea to catch, tag and release Bluefin tuna. The tags will be standard floy tags and will be deployed by skippers who have been trained by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), using procedures approved by CEFAS’ Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Board (AWERB).

For 2021, the CHART program will run from 16 August to 14 November, inclusive. Skippers selected to participate in the programme will be issued scientific licences by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) that will only be valid for the duration of the programme.

Stuart Singleton-White, Head of Campaigns at the Angling Trust said “CHART marks a vital step forward in understanding the where, when and why of the seasonal presence of Atlantic bluefin in our waters that has been most prevalent since around 2015.

“An English CHART program, especially if expanded to cover the waters of the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, will generate significant data on the temporal and spatial distribution of Atlantic bluefin across the waters of the UK, and using the platform for wider research projects could also begin to help answer the question, ‘why are they here?”

Multiple Government Agencies have engaged with various stakeholders, that have comprised representatives from a range of organisations and groups including specialist clubs such as the Shark Angling Club of Great Britain, the Sportfishing Club of the British Isles, a group of over 75 professional Charter skippers directly and latterly through the Professional Boatman’s Association. Various events throughout the process have also provided an opportunity for several hundred anglers to engage with the stakeholder representatives, and many have contacted those directly to ask questions and share their thoughts. Many individuals, businesses, organisations and MPs have supported this process over the last 14 months, and we wish to give them our thanks for that support.

All such processes and outcomes are a function of collaboration and compromise. The CHART consultations represent one of the most exhaustive and detailed co-design, collaborative processes yet undertaken between recreational sea angling representatives and multiple Government Agencies. It has the potential to be a world leading sea angling led research project into an iconic and important apex predator species.

Whilst this initial announcement covers an ‘English Program’, CHART has been working with stakeholder counterparts in Scotland since 2019, and Wales and Northern Ireland since 2020, with the Fisheries Departments of those devolved administrations being engaged with Defra in determining if such the CHART program could include vessels from their home areas this autumn.

Atlantic bluefin tuna are at a crossroads following a sharp stock recovery from the brink 10-12 years ago. The UK can now play a bigger role in answering the key questions and ensuring the species has a bright, sustainable future not just in UK waters, but across the North Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Sir Charles Walker MP said “A catch–and–release bluefin tuna fishery will ensure that in British waters these wonderful fish are conserved and protected. This is a good outcome for recreational anglers and a good outcome for conservation.”

Scott Mann MP for North Cornwall said “I am absolutely delighted that the campaign for a catch–and–release bluefin tuna pilot has been supported by the government. Big game fishing has huge potential for coastal communities, and I hope that many will take up the opportunity to catch these fantastic fish.”

Cefas have now opened applications to charter skippers who wish to join the CHART program. Details can be found here: https://www.cefas.co.uk/impact/programmes/chart/

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aenoon

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Issued by the Angling Trust:

A science-based recreational bluefin tuna fishery has been given the green light by Defra. This news, welcomed by anglers, was secured by Bluefin Tuna UK, with the support of the Angling Trust. On 23rd April 2021, Cefas and Defra confirmed that an English CatcH And Release Tagging (CHART) program for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna will operate in the waters of the South and West in Autumn 2021.

Steve Murphy of Bluefin Tuna UK said “This is a great result. After years of painstaking work, we have opened up an opportunity, not only to support work to increase our understanding of bluefin, but to show the enormous economic opportunity a recreational bluefin fishery can bring to coastal communities. The process that has brought us to this point has been exhaustive and lengthy. Two three-month consultation periods comprised dozens of calls, tens of thousands of words of detailed submissions, contributions from a range of outside experts including scientist with decades of experience with the species, and several involved in existing CHART programs in Ireland and Scandinavia.”

This angler led, licensed and scientifically valuable program will join Ireland, Denmark and Sweden in providing hugely valuable scientific knowledge. The English Tuna CHART program will enable anglers to deliver important data to help us understand and protect this species in the future. It will play a vital role in the decisions the UK Government will be making next year regarding future strategy and policy options for Atlantic Bluefin, including a possible licensed Recreational Live Release Fishery. CHART data will also inform the species global management body, ICCAT (The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas), in their global management and policy decisions over the coming years.

Murphy said, “Our campaign with the Angling Trust and the acceptance of CHART by Defra and Cefas has resulted in a high-quality program design that will delivery great scientific insight, the beginnings of valuable socio-economic contributions, and an opportunity for anglers to legally catch bluefin in a safe, professional environment with trained and authorised skippers and crew.”

The English Tuna CHART program will allow up to 15 charter boat skippers – selected through a competitive application process – to take paying recreational anglers to sea to catch, tag and release Bluefin tuna. The tags will be standard floy tags and will be deployed by skippers who have been trained by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), using procedures approved by CEFAS’ Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Board (AWERB).

For 2021, the CHART program will run from 16 August to 14 November, inclusive. Skippers selected to participate in the programme will be issued scientific licences by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) that will only be valid for the duration of the programme.

Stuart Singleton-White, Head of Campaigns at the Angling Trust said “CHART marks a vital step forward in understanding the where, when and why of the seasonal presence of Atlantic bluefin in our waters that has been most prevalent since around 2015.

“An English CHART program, especially if expanded to cover the waters of the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, will generate significant data on the temporal and spatial distribution of Atlantic bluefin across the waters of the UK, and using the platform for wider research projects could also begin to help answer the question, ‘why are they here?”

Multiple Government Agencies have engaged with various stakeholders, that have comprised representatives from a range of organisations and groups including specialist clubs such as the Shark Angling Club of Great Britain, the Sportfishing Club of the British Isles, a group of over 75 professional Charter skippers directly and latterly through the Professional Boatman’s Association. Various events throughout the process have also provided an opportunity for several hundred anglers to engage with the stakeholder representatives, and many have contacted those directly to ask questions and share their thoughts. Many individuals, businesses, organisations and MPs have supported this process over the last 14 months, and we wish to give them our thanks for that support.

All such processes and outcomes are a function of collaboration and compromise. The CHART consultations represent one of the most exhaustive and detailed co-design, collaborative processes yet undertaken between recreational sea angling representatives and multiple Government Agencies. It has the potential to be a world leading sea angling led research project into an iconic and important apex predator species.

Whilst this initial announcement covers an ‘English Program’, CHART has been working with stakeholder counterparts in Scotland since 2019, and Wales and Northern Ireland since 2020, with the Fisheries Departments of those devolved administrations being engaged with Defra in determining if such the CHART program could include vessels from their home areas this autumn.

Atlantic bluefin tuna are at a crossroads following a sharp stock recovery from the brink 10-12 years ago. The UK can now play a bigger role in answering the key questions and ensuring the species has a bright, sustainable future not just in UK waters, but across the North Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Sir Charles Walker MP said “A catch–and–release bluefin tuna fishery will ensure that in British waters these wonderful fish are conserved and protected. This is a good outcome for recreational anglers and a good outcome for conservation.”

Scott Mann MP for North Cornwall said “I am absolutely delighted that the campaign for a catch–and–release bluefin tuna pilot has been supported by the government. Big game fishing has huge potential for coastal communities, and I hope that many will take up the opportunity to catch these fantastic fish.”

Cefas have now opened applications to charter skippers who wish to join the CHART program. Details can be found here: https://www.cefas.co.uk/impact/programmes/chart/

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Does this actually only apply to English waters?
No mention of Irish west coast or Scottish waters in any of the documents?
 

Rhithrogena

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Well
(Why) Can't we just leave them alone to continue their recovery?
Is it a recovery?
The same could, very fairly, be said about Salmon in most of our rivers, surely?
Anglers want to fish. And this stock of tuna is an unquantified resource. Tagging is a hugely useful tool in quantifying it.
Most of our fisheries in the UK are poorly understood due to too little research. It's a step in the right direction that research into this stock is being encouraged.
 

bonefishblues

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Well
Is it a recovery?
The same could, very fairly, be said about Salmon in most of our rivers, surely?
Anglers want to fish. And this stock of tuna is an unquantified resource. Tagging is a hugely useful tool in quantifying it.
Most of our fisheries in the UK are poorly understood due to too little research. It's a step in the right direction that research into this stock is being encouraged.
Well the Angling Trust said in their above statement:

Atlantic bluefin tuna are at a crossroads following a sharp stock recovery from the brink 10-12 years ago.

It's not rocket science. Catch fewer. Pollute less. Take less of their prey species. Improve water quality.
Do these and any species of fish will benefit.

@aenoon I have some sympathy with your view - indeed it's given equal billing in the statement. If the last fish is in the ocean there will be fishermen clamouring to catch it.

How successfully can Bluefin be caught and released without mortality - are there any numbers on that?
 

bobmiddlepoint

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I can see both points of view here. Some research would be no bad thing, knowing what is there is important. Where anglers really could score here is if the research shows very limited stocks we (anglers) take the lead and close the sport fishery voluntarily.


Andy
 

Rhithrogena

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Atlantic bluefin tuna are at a crossroads following a sharp stock recovery from the brink 10-12 years ago.
This is not certain. I know staff involved with preliminary tagging and tracking studies and it is not known if the fish appearing around the UK are 'new' stocks or southern ones moving north. The work has been funded centrally. With a fish so globally threatened as Bluefin tuna, it is surely important to try and understand their movements.
The UK is in a great position to properly protect this resource in our waters. Let's hope the science is used ethically.
The good thing about the types of tags used is that you get a satellite ping every time the fish is at the surface. The great majority of the fish survive the tagging and there have been few, though some, mortalities.
Full information from;
 

haugh

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Is the stock really flowing or have the few that are left changed range due to environmental change?
 

bonefishblues

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This is not certain. I know staff involved with preliminary tagging and tracking studies and it is not known if the fish appearing around the UK are 'new' stocks or southern ones moving north. The work has been funded centrally. With a fish so globally threatened as Bluefin tuna, it is surely important to try and understand their movements.
The UK is in a great position to properly protect this resource in our waters. Let's hope the science is used ethically.
The good thing about the types of tags used is that you get a satellite ping every time the fish is at the surface. The great majority of the fish survive the tagging and there have been few, though some, mortalities.
Full information from;
Thanks for the link.

If it's not not certain that it's a species in recovery, how can the AT and its statement to that effect have any credibility might be a fair question to pose, I'd have thought.

Just reflecting on the comment around population movement, warming seas et al it struck me at the time that TimmyMullet of this parish reported a mullet catch several weeks earlier than ever before in a recent thread.

As others, I have mixed feelings about this, based around the issue of mortality, but I guess if restricted to 15 licensed boats there's some control over this...until incidences of by-catch mysteriously increase, of course, as unlicensed skippers start putting them onto the menu, as it were (the latter part is purely my speculating btw, but it would be very difficult to police).
 

Rhithrogena

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Thanks for the link.

If it's not not certain that it's a species in recovery, how can the AT and its statement to that effect have any credibility might be a fair question to pose, I'd have thought.

Just reflecting on the comment around population movement, warming seas et al it struck me at the time that TimmyMullet of this parish reported a mullet catch several weeks earlier than ever before in a recent thread.

As others, I have mixed feelings about this, based around the issue of mortality, but I guess if restricted to 15 licensed boats there's some control over this...until incidences of by-catch mysteriously increase, of course, as unlicensed skippers start putting them onto the menu, as it were (the latter part is purely my speculating btw, but it would be very difficult to police).
The unregulated part of the fishery wil be, well unregulated whatever. Boats are catching tuna on the sly already. All the more important to know more about the stock so regulatiins are effective. I'm not expexting great things from this government tbh..
 

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