Catch and release tag (CHART) scientific data collection programme
Catch and release tag (CHART) scientific data collection programme for Atlantic bluefin tuna (ABT) (Thunnus thynnus)
About CHART Cymru
Eastern Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (BFT) is a wide-ranging migratory species managed at an international level by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). In December 2020, the EU TCA agreement included a very small tonnage of BFT quota to the UK (approximately 46 tonnes or 0.25% of the total quota for the fishery).
Officials across the four UK Fisheries Administrations were involved in the adoption and approval of the second UK fishing plan in March 2022 by ICCAT. The UK plan allows for a targeted catch and release scientific tagging programmes including scientific satellite tagging programmes, such as THUNNUS-UK (scientist-led) and recreational CatcH And Release Tagging programmes such as CHART Cymru (stakeholder led) The UKs quota only being used to cover incidental bycatch mortalities which are reported at less than 2% for fish tagged and released to date.
In 2021, Welsh Government delivered three pilot projects to investigate the abundance of BFT in Welsh waters. Two projects used charter vessels to assess the safest methods to capture and monitor BFT, and one used environmental DNA analysis to remotely detect the presence of BFT. The two projects using charter vessels measured and safely tagged three large BFT in Welsh waters, two inshore using trolled lures, and one offshore using dead baits. Official observers were present on all trips to ensure tagging undertaken was carried out by trained crews, in accordance with international standards and to trial safeguarding mitigation measures agreed with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and designed to satisfy concerns surrounding potential interactions with Welsh cetacean and seabird Marine Protected Area species features.
In 2022, Welsh Government intend to take forward THUNNUS-UK and CHART scientific tagging projects in Welsh waters. The former will be arranged by Cefas and delivered by academics with appropriate Home Office licenses to attach satellite tags to the fish. The CHART project has been co-developed with stakeholders through the Stakeholder Interest and Technical Working Groups already established. We anticipate the CHART project will involve up to ten vessels. Skippers and crew will be trained in specialist tuna angling and boat side handling and tagging techniques designed to minimise harm to the tuna. Trainees will also be taught to use a marine seabird and cetacean interaction avoidance protocol agreed with NRW. Trained and authorised skippers will be authorised to target and tag BFT under strict conditions, with paying anglers onboard. Building on the success of mitigation measures used in our trial projects during 2021, CHART Cymru fishing activities will be monitored by trained observers on at least 10% of trips and vessels.