The 2022 Bluefin Tuna season is upon us and the opportunities for anglers to legally target Atlantic bluefin tuna in our waters have been substantially increased from 2021. In England, the number of authorised vessels in the 2022 CHART programme has increased to 25. The duration of the programme has also been extended to just under 4 months, with fishiing permitted from the 15th August to the 11th December. On top of that Chart programmes in Wales and Northern Ireland are being finalised and should begin operations late August.
Scotland is also operating a science fishery but have gone down their own path, little information is coming from Marine Scotland.
Around 40 boats will be out targeting, catching and tagging bluefins this summer which is great news for both the research programme, (more data) and for anglers (more fishing opportunities). It is, of course, still illegal for recreational anglers outside the programme to target bluefins.
Methods of fishing will be similar to last year, using predominantly trolling techniques which were so successful in the English programme last year, with over 700 bluefin tagged and released. Anglers can fish on the English programme by contacting one of the skippers listed on this page. As soon as we have details of the Welsh and NI programme skippers we will share them. All fishing gear is provided by the participating vessels.
As far as the future is concerned there is reason to feel optimistic about the prospects of a full recreational fishery being sanctioned in the next year or so. It needs a slight change in the fisheries act (partly because any recreational Bluefin fishery will, consistent with ICCAT regulations, have to be licensed and regulated,) Work is ongoing to implement that change. In coming months there are several other hurdles to clear including consultations on quota use, and scoping projects to determine what a fishery might look like. The stakeholder representatives who delivered CHART for skippers and anglers are working on that for 2023.
In order to ensure that anglers and charter skippers are properly represented in the ongoing preparations and any future fishery, a new membership based body has been formed by the individuals and organisations who supported the successful ‘Bluefin Tuna UK’ campaign led by its founder Steve Murphy.
The UK Bluefin Tuna Association
The UK Bluefin Tuna Association is a not-for-profit organization with a professional structure that has already been recognised as a stakeholder by DEFRA and others engaged in the CHART policy platforms. As a membership based organisation the UKBFTA will fulfil a variety of roles including conservation and education initiatives, lobbying, co-design with Government agencies, ensuring anglers views are represented in all policy discussions and decisions relating to Atlantic bluefin tuna. The Association will offer a range of benefits to members, more details of which will be made available when it opens its books for subscribers in coming weeks.
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