Six vessels from Donegal will participate in a programme which will see Bluefin Tuna being caught and released

Bluefin tuna off Donegal coast

Six authorised vessels from Donegal will participate in a programme which will see Bluefin Tuna being caught, tagged, measured and released for data collection purposes of the Irish coast. 

While there is no sport or commercial fishery for Bluefin tuna in Ireland, authorisations are being granted for the 22 charter angling vessels to participate in Tuna CHART (Catch and Release Tagging) a Bluefin Tuna Data Collection Programme.

Authorised vessels located in Cork, Clare, Galway and Sligo will also participate in the programme.  

The authorised vessels, will support an international scientific programme to increase knowledge of the behaviour and abundance of Bluefin Tuna in Irish waters and across its distribution generally.

The 6 Donegal vessels which will participate in the programme are: 

Adrian Molloy, Deep Blue, Killybegs
Brian McGilloway, Meridian, Killybegs 
Donal McMenamin, Tór Mor, Killybegs
Michael Callaghan, LEAH-C,  Teelin
Michael McGettigan, Fiona Tee, Killybegs
Patrick O’Doherty, Bundoran Star, Bundoran Pier 

The new programme, which has been developed by Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Marine Institute in partnership with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, will operate again in 2020 having commenced on a pilot basis in 2019.

The Minister with responsibility for inland fisheries, Eamon Ryan TD said: “The 22 angling vessels authorised by my department, increased from 15 last year, will contribute substantially to essential Bluefin tuna data collection as they migrate along the Irish coastline. 

"The recreational fisheries sector is crucial in the delivery of this research programme and we look forward to continue working with all the State agencies involved. I want to acknowledge the key role of the authorised charter skippers and their crews who are bringing their unique expertise to bear on providing valuable data for scientific purposes, and the ‘citizen scientist’ anglers who will catch the fish. The fact that 209 fish were tagged last year with no mortalities is a great achievement by the skippers.”

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Barry Cowen TD welcomed the continuation of the programme, he said: “This initiative will allow the Marine Institute and Inland Fisheries Ireland to collect valuable data and improve our understanding of the migratory patterns of Bluefin tuna in Irish waters in a tightly controlled environment. 

This project has been an excellent example of ongoing cooperation between both Departments, SFPA, IFI and the Marine Institute and I look forward to the continued development of this relationship.”

The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and Inland Fisheries Ireland will undertake inspections and patrols around the coast to ensure this remains a strictly controlled programme. Anglers wishing to engage in this programme must only do so on a sea angling vessel specifically authorised to participate in the pilot programme. 

Any person engaging in fishing for Bluefin Tuna on any vessel which is not appropriately authorised will be in breach of the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction (Bluefin Tuna) Regulations 2019 (S.I. No. 265 of 2019). 

A full list of authorised skippers can be found at www.fisheriesireland.ie/ bluefin.

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