Bluefin tuna: a recreational and CHART – where are we now

Steve Murphy givers an update on the latest situation and how our media coverage is cranking up.

Screaming reels and aching muscles may seem an age ago now for many Bluefin skippers, crew and anglers, and their late summer return seem a very long way off. 

However, for those of us involved in the campaigning for and work on recreational Bluefin fishing opportunities, the first few months of the year are some of the busiest, especially this year.

A number of key events are on the horizon, some pretty imminent. 

Quota Consultation

The DEFRA consultation on Bluefin Quota use undertaken last autumn is due to have its conclusions published shortly. This is a key document in terms of setting out the next few years of policy and we hope that the extensive submissions we made last year to this consultation have had the desired impact.

ICCAT Submission

15th February is an important deadline by which the UK must submit its Bluefin fishing plans for 2023 to ICCAT. This sets out the UK’s intention regarding scientific programmes, accounting for bycatch and possible targeted commercial and recreational fisheries.   

Fisheries Minister

Following our constructive meeting with the Fisheries Minister in December, we need to get to work asap with officials on the options available to the recreational sector for 2023. Whether the required legal changes are made to facilitate a licensed, closely monitored pilot recreational fishery, or a continuation of some form of ‘CHART style’ programme, within the funding constraints all Government departments are facing, time is of the essence. 

We have therefore this week submitted a follow up letter jointly with the Angling Trust to the Fisheries Minister and his officials, setting out the various areas where we need clarity and co-operation from DEFRA to address these various issues and options. 

In recent years we have had a good rapport with DEFRA officials, co-delivering CHART, and setting out a vision and draft structure for what a recreational fishery might look like. 

Much work needs to be done in the first few months of this year to ensure we can build upon the great work delivered by officials, skippers, crew and anglers over the last few years. 

Last weekend’s front page coverage in the Financial Times (and The Times) underlines the success we have had working to highlight the benefits recreational sea angling can bring to ensure a sustainable, economically and scientifically valuable future for Atlantic bluefin in UK waters. The issue of bluefin and its effect on the south west is now high on the agenda of the Fisheries minister and the high profile coverage were getting should will only help with our aims in 2023.

There may be quite a lot of developments in the coming month or so and we will keep you informed as and when we can of those.Thanks to all of those who support our efforts in various ways, and best of luck with your fishing efforts in 2023.