Electronic tracking of Atlantic bluefin tuna off southwest England
Cefas and the University of Exeter are collaborating on a research project to provide a baseline understanding of the ecology of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus; ABFT) in waters of the British Isles. The project is supported by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
We are continuing the ABFT tagging programme in the SW of the UK, which began in 2018, into 2019 to increase knowledge on seasonal migrations and behaviour. In 2019 we are to broadening participation in the tagging programme to include interested recreational sea anglers (RSAs) as we seek to deploy up to 30 state of the art electronic tags on ABFT this year.
Volunteer fishing teams (a vessel with a minimum of a skipper and one crew), collaborating with Cefas and the University of Exeter are permitted to take paying RSAs aboard their vessels during scientific fishing operations off the SW of the UK. Volunteer Vessels have received authorisation to target Atlantic bluefin tuna from the Marine Management Organisation via an official dispensation. This dispensation is specific to participating vessels (see Volunteer Vessel Skippers page) and requires, 1) all participating RSAs to have had prior experience fishing for large pelagic fish, and, 2) reeling-in times to not exceed 30 minutes (if the fish is not boatside after 30 minutes then an experienced crew member will take over and continue to retrieve the fish).
Why can only experienced anglers participate?
This is a scientific research project that is conducting highly-refined and Home Office regulated procedures on wild animals. As such, the capture experience is also required to be as refined as is reasonably possible to ensure the highest possible levels of welfare for the Atlantic bluefin tuna captured, tagged and released as part of the project.
How can I get involved?