Angling Trust meets with the Fisheries Minister to progress plans for the future of UK’s recreational bluefin tuna fishery

The Angling Trust, along with the UK Bluefin Tuna Association, have met with the Fisheries Minister Mark Spencer to discuss the options for a recreational bluefin tuna fishery in 2023. This came after some conflicting information emerged from Defra as to the options for the coming year.

Led by Jamie Cook, Angling Trust CEO, we discussed with the Minister the success of the Catch and Release Tagging (CHART) programme over the last two years and presented the economic benefits this limited fishery has brought the southwest.

Jamie pressed the Minister on the importance of being able to continue with a fishery in 2023 and the consequences of missing this opportunity. Having learnt so much from the past two years, this would be a move to a full, licensed recreational catch and release fishery for bluefin tuna. We acknowledged some of the current legal barriers and will continue to push Defra to make the removal of those barriers a priority. Encouragingly, the Minister indicated this to be his preferred option.

However, should this not be possible, we will continue to work with Defra on a third year of the CHART programme. We will look at how we can simplify CHART and reduce its costs.

In response to the meeting, Mark Spencer commented:

“We had a very constructive introductory meeting where we discussed a range of issues. I continue to be interested in recreational angling and see the significant value in it. I reaffirmed Defra’s commitment to continue to work with the AT on a range of matters including bluefin tuna.”

Jamie Cook said:

“We remain committed to delivering a world class bluefin tuna fishery in English waters.  England has the potential to be a global destination for such a magnificent sport fishery. Bluefin tuna stocks were over exploited in previous decades and these fish left our waters for generations – CHART has proved how a world-class, sustainable, recreational fishery can play a key role in protecting and understanding these amazing creatures.

“The high standards of welfare we have implemented now ensure that the economic value to our communities of these fish is much greater than the price per kilo they fetch at the market. The Angling Trust will continue to lead negotiations at the highest level to ensure that this sustainable success story can move to its next chapter and the angling community can lead by example in ensuring that these precious fish have a future in our waters.”

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