https://marinedevelopments.blog.gov.uk/2017/09/04/bluefin-tuna-in-uk-waters/

Bluefin tuna in UK waters

Reports have again been received of bluefin tuna appearing in UK waters. 

bluefin tuna rules UK

Atlantic bluefin tuna is recognised as an endangered species by the WWF and the IUCN Red List.

The UK has no specific quota to catch bluefin tuna.

Countries which are able to fish for bluefin tuna commercially are listed on the EC website.

In normal circumstances bluefin tuna is a prohibited species for UK fishing vessels.

Commercial

Vessels must not target bluefin tuna and if caught accidentally they must be returned to the sea, alive and unharmed to the greatest extent possible.

Recreational

Sea anglers must not target bluefin tuna, any caught as a by-catch when targeting other species must be released immediately and not landed or brought onto the boat.

This applies unless recreational catches are part of an ICCAT tagging project.

If you find a bluefin tuna you should report this to the nearest MMO office. Sightings of shoals of the species at sea can also be reported to the ICCAT.

Further guidance on bluefin tuna regulations applicable to UK vessels can be found on the GOV.UK website.

38 comments

  1. Comment by Mark shreeve posted on

    Is this a U.K. or EEC regulation? If UK can it be applied to other EEC countries such as Portugal ?

    Reply
  2. Comment by tony posted on

    as the uk waters are getting warmer each year we are seeing more and more bluefin in our waters, is it time that rod and line fishermen our allowed to catch and land at least 2 fish a year, still way below the amount other eu countries catch with nets etc?

    Reply
    • Replies to tony>

      Comment by carlharvey posted on

      Thanks for your comment Tony - such decisions are not in our remit, but for the EU and Defra currently.

      Reply
      • Replies to carlharvey>

        Comment by tony posted on

        then why isnt defra etc applying to the Eu for the uk to have a quota? after all those Eu pirates have been raping our waters of every specie for yrs about time we were allowed to catch fish that our in our waters!

        Reply
  3. Comment by stephen gathergood posted on

    with global warming and indigenous species moving north we should be allowed to catch fish moving north into our waters or in time we wont be able to catch anything

    Reply
    • Replies to stephen gathergood>

      Comment by carlharvey posted on

      Thanks for your comment Stephen - such decisions are not in our remit, but for the EU and Defra currently.

      Reply
  4. Comment by James posted on

    Maybe the mmo should change its name, marine management organisation !! Suggests that it would be your remit, but then, is this the reason all fish stocks have been hammered as you don't have the resources to manage any fish stocks. Also, it's the ICCAT that manages tuna stocks in the Atlantic and the make catch recommendations through scientific catch research to the eu. Track record is the key word, Britain has none unless you go back 100 years !

    Reply
  5. Comment by Kenny beech posted on

    Why is it always the UK that's have these rules and other countries can catch them without a problem, UK rules are a joke sometimes

    Reply
  6. Comment by Dan posted on

    Very interesting that this is the first time I have seen the phrase "Sea anglers must not target bluefin tuna", can you refer me to the relevant statutory instrument that prohibits recreational fishing for Bluefin please?

    Thank you

    Dan

    Reply
    • Replies to Dan>

      Comment by carlharvey posted on

      Hi Dan

      A link to Commission Regulation (EU) 2016/1627 is available on the .GOV website; chapter IV refers specifically to sport and recreational fisheries. This legislation states that recreational or sport fishing for bluefin tuna is prohibited (other than as part of an ICCAT tagging project) unless an authorisation has been granted from a member state which has quota for it. As the UK does not currently have a bluefin tuna quota, the MMO is not able to issue authorisations, therefore, targeting bluefin tuna is prohibited.

      Kind regards
      Marine Management Organisation

      Reply
      • Replies to carlharvey>

        Comment by Dean Gifford posted on

        Hi Carl,

        Thank you for referencing the related literature; I'm sure my queries are based on a differing of interpretation of the legislation and/or me missing something in a different area of the documentation.

        After reading Commission Regulation (EU) 2016/1627 Chaper IV articles 18 & 19, I still have a question regarding MMO's stance on an item:

        1) 2016/1627 Article 18 & 19.1 address how member states *with* a bluefin tuna quota 'shall regulate sport and recreational fisheries'; as a member state *without* a bluefin tuna quota based on the UK being omitted from _COUNCIL REGULATION (EU) 2016/72 page 112_ wouldn't we be exempt from those regulations? if so, where would we find the documentation relating to how member states *without* BFT Quota 'shall regulate sport and recreational fisheries'? Is it in 2016/1627 or another document?

        1.1) if there is no additional document; 2016/1627 Article 19.2 - .6 seem to be broader in terms of how *all* member states should regulate their 'sport and recreational fisheries'; I don't see how any of these points can be interpreted as 'Sea anglers must not target bluefin tuna,' & 'not brought onto the boat.' - is this in an additional area of 2016/1627 or another document?

        An additional question I'd like to as is:
        2) Where does the MMO's jurisdiction regarding the recreational / sports fishing for bluefin tuna start and end?

        As there MMO describes its self as "We license, regulate and plan marine activities in the seas around England so that they're carried out in a sustainable way." would the MMO's interpretation of this legislation be enforced by them around the Welsh coasts? Or would this be the remit of NRW?

        Thank you for your time in advance.

        Reply
      • Replies to carlharvey>

        Comment by Steve Rogers posted on

        Carl,
        Like a good many other recreational Boat Anglers we have spent a goodly among of money purchasing Tuna Rods and Reels to enable us to catch Blue Fin or the very few months they show on the south coast.
        I'm not putting the kit on e-bay just yet as I believe a legal challenge to MMO's authority over Recreational Angling and, its procedures are in process.
        The question has also remained un-answered regarding recreational angling for Tope, Porbeagles, Undulate Rays etc.
        Are we no longer allowed to target these either?
        I think with Brexit, having been voted for by a clear majority and, our own PM working tirelessly to remove the fetters of EU bureaucracy, the MMO could be well advised to revue its stance on this very controversial piece of fishery protection.
        Its not the Recreational folk you should be legislating against.
        Kind regards
        Steve

        Reply
        • Replies to Steve Rogers>

          Comment by carlharvey posted on

          Hi Steve

          Recreational angling in England targeting prohibited species listed in the 2017 TAC and quota regulations which includes porbeagles, tope, common skate is permitted as Article 12 of that regulation does not apply to recreational anglers. As always, if you fish within the English 6 nautical mile limit there may be additional regulations established by the relevant Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority.

          Kind regards
          Marine Management Organisation

          Reply
  7. Comment by Bob Shotter posted on

    Please can you provide further clarification with regard this MMO statement with regards to 'Recreational' fishing.

    I was not aware that the EU CFP regulations affect boats not Licensed to land.

    A link to the regulation would be much appreciated.

    Reply
  8. Comment by Ian Memish posted on

    Nothing wrong with catch and release as a sport fisherman have pleasure in letting them go safe . But as we all know not always an option.

    Reply
  9. Comment by Dan posted on

    The reason I ask is because I, amongst others, were told in writing last year (by ISFCA) that whilst recreational fishing for these animals is "discouraged", there is nothing in law preventing targeting them, catching them or indeed eating them, as long as they are not sold and as long as the vessels being fished from is not a registered fishing vessel.

    Now, I am not the only person who has spend considerable sums of money equipping my boat for tuna fishing and have taken bookings from groups who are keen to catch them. This was done on the strength of ISFCA assurances that it was above board.

    It is very easy to post comments on a blog, under the banner of "Atlantic bluefin tuna is recognised as an endangered species by the WWF and the IUCN Red List." but let's remember that there is an international (legal) commercial fishery for Bluefin, it just so happens that due to their previous lack of abundance in UK waters, the UK presumably did not haggle for quota for them in the EU when fish stocks were "shared" amongst member states.

    What we need is not only the words, no matter how well intentioned, but also the law to back it up. Who, for instance will be in charge of prosecuting these "illegal" recreational catches, what are the penalties and so on and so forth.

    Also, if we can be satisfied that there is indeed law to back up the words, who will be reimbursing me and others for wasted time, effort and money spent preparing boats for the upcoming season after being told we were within our rights to do so?

    Normally when a governing body clarifies a legal position it will quote chapter and verse the law to which it refers. If however the clarification is "unofficial" it will have some form of disclaimer attached making clear that the position if merely the opinion of (an Officer in this case) the person in question.

    I have seen this argument made so many times now but am yet to be referred to any such statute, law, by-law or other. To give the impression that the fish are untouchable when a commercial fishery exists is clearly facile and an attempt to overstate the legal case in the way would to my mind be deliberately disingenuous.

    I am very happy to abide by the law of the land, I am not however going to salute hollow words on a blog. Very frustrated.

    Reply
    • Replies to Dan>

      Comment by Barry posted on

      Very well put sir.

      Reply
    • Replies to Dan>

      Comment by Tim posted on

      Excellent comment Dan. Awaiting the MMO reply with great interest.

      Reply
    • Replies to Dan>

      Comment by Dean Gifford posted on

      A very well written and appropriate set of questions Dan! I
      (and many others) eagerly await the MMO's reply to it.

      Reply
  10. Comment by Russell Symons posted on

    What about the 40 ton bycatch. This must apply equally to commercial and recreational vessels.

    Reply
    • Replies to Russell Symons>

      Comment by carlharvey posted on

      Hi Russell

      The provision of a specific Union bluefin tuna by-catch quota is applicable only to commercial EU fishing vessels, however the UK does not currently authorise such vessels to access this by-catch quota and commercial bycatches of bluefin must be avoided, and where accidentally caught, must be returned to the sea, alive and unharmed to the greatest extent possible. If the fish cannot be returned alive, then they must be landed and reported to the MMO and may not be sold.

      Article 19 of the EU bluefin tuna regulation ((EU) 2016/1627) states that only member states with a specific allocation of bluefin tuna quota may authorise recreational or sport fisheries for bluefin tuna.

      We hope this answers your query

      Kind regards
      Marine Management Organisation

      Reply
      • Replies to carlharvey>

        Comment by Russell Symons posted on

        And yet there have been Tunny landed across Plymouth fish market over the years. There is still much confusion in the minds of so many of us regarding this. Added to the absense of empirical regulation on this it seems that there is one rule for one and another for the rest of us.

        Reply
  11. Comment by Cliff Benson posted on

    We at Sea Trust have been recording these tuna in recent years. They are seriously threatened as a species world-wide. We need a better understanding of what is happening with these BFT's before we start exploiting them.

    Reply
  12. Comment by Tim posted on

    By the same token, are recreational anglers therefore not allowed to target (on a catch and release basis) non-quota/prohibited species such as porbeagle, tope and thornback ray?

    Reply
  13. Comment by graham huyton posted on

    rod and line anglers are no threat , its mass commercial fishing thats causes extinction !!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  14. Comment by wyn posted on

    we will no doubt continue to allow foreign vessels into uk waters that will catch them keep them and return to their country of origin .

    Reply
  15. Comment by James eaton posted on

    Hi Carl,
    The remit has to lie with somebody and if not you, WHO ? I think the question on everyone's lips is, are you or defra going to apply for some quota so we can stop watching boats from the rest of the eu catch bft in our waters whilst all we can do is sit and watch. I think everyone can agree this is a ridiculous situation to be in be it law makers or fisherman, (anglers or commercial) , everyone involved would like to see some resolution to this situation and what you or defra are doing to rectify it. actions speak louder than words and I look forward to seeing an quota application to fish for blue fin tuna in U.K. Waters. Long live brexit !!!

    Reply
  16. Comment by Florry posted on

    Bearing in mind Bexit, what is the MMO's strategy regarding introducing a quota after we leave Europe. As already discussed, warming water and migration of additional species into UK waters will need additional management and policing (as the foreign boats will no doubt follow the shoals). What consideration is the MMO giving this and how will we police our waters in the future?

    Reply
    • Replies to Florry>

      Comment by carlharvey posted on

      Hi Florry

      Despite the early signs that the bluefin tuna stock appears to be recovering, there are still high levels of uncertainty around the extent of the recovery achieved and we must continue to approach the management of this stock with caution.

      The UK does not currently hold any quota for bluefin tuna and this is unlikely to change whilst we remain in the EU. However, EU exit offers potential opportunities to do things differently and we will be considering where there may be opportunities for the UK. We will continue to monitor the situation and seek to maximise fishing opportunities where supported by the scientific advice.

      Kind regards
      Marine Management Organisation

      Reply
  17. Comment by Chris posted on

    I would like to know who is policing the catching of these tuna? If you google tuna caught in cornwall there are loads of boats with them on the deck! there have been loads of photos in the papers.
    Its ok to make laws but if its not policed, then the law is pointless.
    I can not see the harm in catch and release as long as the fish are not brought on board, the chance of catching one of these fish will help tourism here in Cornwall.

    Reply
    • Replies to Chris>

      Comment by carlharvey posted on

      Hi Chris

      The MMO operates a risk-based enforcement strategy. Any suspected non-compliance that comes to our attention may be investigated and would be dealt with in line with the MMO’s Compliance and Enforcement Strategy.

      I appreciate your comment about the potential increase in tourism caused by anglers attempting to catch these fish; however, I am sure you will understand the importance of conservation which in this case includes not deliberately targeting endangered fish such as bluefin tuna unless as part of an ICCAT tagging project.

      Kind regards
      Marine Management Organisation

      Reply
  18. Comment by Dean Gifford posted on

    I had this comment as a reply on Dans post 05/09/2017; I posted the comment on 10/09/2017 - As I've had no reply in the 18 days that have past I'll add this comment to the main comment thread also:

    Thank you for referencing the related literature; I'm sure my queries are based on a differing of interpretation of the legislation and/or me missing something in a different area of the documentation.

    After reading Commission Regulation (EU) 2016/1627 Chaper IV articles 18 & 19, I still have a question regarding MMO's stance on an item:

    1) 2016/1627 Article 18 & 19.1 address how member states *with* a bluefin tuna quota 'shall regulate sport and recreational fisheries'; as a member state *without* a bluefin tuna quota based on the UK being omitted from _COUNCIL REGULATION (EU) 2016/72 page 112_ wouldn't we be exempt from those regulations? if so, where would we find the documentation relating to how member states *without* BFT Quota 'shall regulate sport and recreational fisheries'? Is it in 2016/1627 or another document?

    1.1) if there is no additional document; 2016/1627 Article 19.2 - .6 seem to be broader in terms of how *all* member states should regulate their 'sport and recreational fisheries'; I don't see how any of these points can be interpreted as 'Sea anglers must not target bluefin tuna,' & 'not brought onto the boat.' - is this in an additional area of 2016/1627 or another document?

    An additional question I'd like to as is:
    2) Where does the MMO's jurisdiction regarding the recreational / sports fishing for bluefin tuna start and end?

    As there MMO describes its self as "We license, regulate and plan marine activities in the seas around England so that they're carried out in a sustainable way." would the MMO's interpretation of this legislation be enforced by them around the Welsh coasts? Or would this be the remit of NRW?

    Reply
    • Replies to Dean Gifford>

      Comment by carlharvey posted on

      Hi Dean

      Recreational or sport fishing for bluefin tuna is prohibited in EU waters unless the angler holds an authorisation from a member state which has quota for it. As the UK currently does not have quota for bluefin tuna it cannot issue authorisations and recreational targeting of bluefin tuna is, therefore, prohibited. If bluefin tuna are hooked when targeting other species then they must be released at the side of the boat to maximise their chance of survival.

      The MMO’s jurisdiction with regard to sport and recreational fishing for bluefin tuna extends to all English waters, the Welsh Governments Marine and Fisheries Division would deal with enforcement in the Welsh Zone.

      Kind regards
      Marine Management Organisation

      Reply
  19. Comment by Nick posted on

    Global warming is triggering species range variation and it absurd to pretend it is not happening. The Norwegians are chasing cod well into the Arctic Circle nowadays. Given the endangered status of Bluefin and the existence of a commercial fishery elsewhere, conservation has to fall predominantly and overwhelmingly on this sector, rather than on any small-scale not-for-profit activity on the periphery of a species range. It is also absurd to assert there is a ban on recreational targeting when in truth there is no legal sanction under which "offenders" could be prosecuted. This is a classic example of British rectitude transcending common sense which other more pragmatic and cynical nations find rather naive and stupid. At one point allegedly the Italians were receiving agricultural subsidies for olives groves exceeding the area of Italy itself. No action either way should be inferred from this comment however we need to think more pragmatically, and act in accordance with our consciences.

    Reply

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