bluefin tuna Ireland
A tagged bluefin tuna caught & released off Donegal  (© Adrian Molloy)

Irish bluefin tuna tagging programme to return in 2020

  10th February 2020


Following a successful trial in 2019, the Tuna CHART tagging scheme will return in Irish waters for 2020.

Tuna CHART (CatcH And Release Tagging) is a science-based catch, tag and release fishery for bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), which recreational anglers can legally take part in. Last year saw the first pilot run of the scheme and 15 charter skippers were authorised to operate a scientific fishery, in which anglers participated fully, to catch, tag and release bluefin. All skippers were trained to tag, measure and record bluefin data and over the course of the 2019 three-month season (July to November), a total of 219 bluefin tuna were caught, tagged and released. Data from the tagging programme are being collated by the partnership for reporting to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT).

It has been announced that, in 2020, a maximum of 25 authorisations may be granted to qualifying angling charter vessel skippers around the Irish coast, all of whom will be subject to a screening process. The scientific catch and release fishery will open on the 1st July and close on the 12th November, without exception.

A call for applications for the 2020 fishing season will be announced on 18th February 2020 and the last date for the receipt of a completed application will be 1pm on the 6th March.  Applications can be made at .

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 bring the fish alongside in a timely manner. Data collection for scientific research is the primary purpose of this fishery and will continue to be a key requirement for skipper participation in this scientific catch-and-release fishery. Skippers will be required to collect data on every bluefin trip undertaken and each bluefin they catch, tag and release.

As per last year, the developments have been widely welcomed within the angling community across the country with many advocating that bluefin are worth infinitely more when caught and released as opposed to being targeted by commercial fisheries, especially for rural economies .

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 angling will be subject to prosecution under the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction (Bluefin Tuna) Regulations 2019 (S.I. No. 265 of 2019).

Depending on the successful operation and review of this year’s fishery, it is intended that a scientific catch and release fishery may also operate in 2021 and 2022.

Tuna CHART is a collaborative pilot data collection scheme for Atlantic bluefin tuna developed the Marine Institute (MI) and Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) in partnership with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA), the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and the Department for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE). The scheme complements recent satellite tagging work by the MI in Irish waters and is part of the International Convention on the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) research programme which is supported by the EU Commission.