Donegal TD, Padraig MacLochlainn ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine why Irish fishers have denied quota for bluefin tuna
The question of why the Irish Government does not seek quota for bluefin tuna off the Irish Coast has been raised again by Donegal TD, Padraig MacLochlainn.
The smouldering question was broached once again as a Japanese tuna boat, the 55-metre Takatoyo Maru NO38, which left Japan over two months ago to fish in the North -East Atlantic left Killybegs yesterday heading for the edge of the Irish EEZ where it will start fishing for tuna.
Although the Irish fishing vessels cannot catch bluefin tuna for commercial enterprise, a research programme is being run but there are no Irish fishers benefitting from the information that is being collected. Many in the industry feel that the data is being collected to help increase the knowledge of foreign fishers rather than being the basis for the government to seek quota for the lucrative species.
The Tuna CHART programme is a collaborative scientific programme between Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Marine Institute in partnership with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE).
In 2020, the Tuna CHART pilot programme authorised 22 charter skippers to operate a scientific fishery, in which anglers participated fully, to catch, tag and release bluefin tuna. This scientific catch and release fishery opened on 01 July and will close on 12 November, without exception.
In 2019, as many as eight bluefin were tagged on one fishing trip.
All tuna caught were released alive. Data from the tagging programme was collated by the partnership for reporting to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT).
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Fisheries, Deputy Padraig MacLochlainn TD, raised the question today asking the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, “ to outline why Irish fishers are limited to a strict catch and release policy for the bluefin tuna species only for multiple large foreign fishing vessels to catch them in large quantities, just outside the Irish EEZ or our 200 nm limit; further to ask the Minister to make a statement on what plans he has to address the serious concerns of Irish fishers who have no quota for this lucrative species on conservations grounds but watch helplessly on as large foreign vessels make a mockery of these conservations measures for huge financial returns?”