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The Irish fish Producers’ Organisation has welcomed the announcement of a catch/tag/and release scheme for Irish recreational anglers to fish for Bluefin Tuna.

Marine Minister Michael Creed got EU approval for the scheme during negotiations on a new international plan for Bluefin Tuna in the East Atlantic.

The Department of the Marine, the Marine Institute and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority are to develop a pilot protect allowing up to 15 angling boats, with trained tagging operators aboard, to target Bluefin Tuna this year.

IFPO Chief Executive Francis O'Donnell described it as “a very important development and one that should be welcomed by all.” The IFPO has been a strong advocate of getting more information about migration patterns of Bluefin Tuna.

Tuna numbers have been increasing steadily from August to November in Irish waters annually, particularly in Donegal Bay.

“A limited number of recreational angling boats now have an opportunity to assist the scientific community in gathering more information which may ultimately lead to a more formal catch and release fishery in the future,” said Mr. O'Donnell.

BIM and the Marine Institute have been engaged in research work but, under ICCAT rules, Ireland could not allow targeted angling for blue fin tuna because of not having Bluefin Tuna quota. The changes secured will allow targeting for tagging purposes only by recreational anglers.

Minister Creed said that the fishing industry had expressed “concerns about the increasing numbers of Bluefin tuna in the Irish 200-miles zone and this programme will allow us to understand more about blue fin tuna - their habitat, migration patterns and concentration in waters around Ireland. Previously, under ICCAT rules, Ireland could not allow targeted angling for blue fin tuna as we do not have a blue fin tuna quota. The changes secured by Ireland will now allow targeting for tagging purposes only by recreational anglers.”

He said that the “exact details of the pilot scheme” will be developed in consultation with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment which is responsible for angling.

The Tom MacSweeney Podcast this week discusses how the development could benefit the Irish fishing industry - you can listen to it by clicking on the photo below