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Brexit: Fishermen will be able to catch bluefin tuna in British waters


Fisherman will be able to catch valuable bluefin tuna commercially in UK waters for the first time in decades as the government capitalises on post-Brexit freedoms.

In a boost to the fishing industry, 65 tons of the species, which returned to our waters in 2021, will be available for capture.

Some 39 tons of this will be available for a trial commercial fishery – the first in the UK for decades – with licences issued to ten fishermen.

Atlantic bluefin tuna are among the most coveted fish in the world and are worth thousands of pounds.

A source at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: 'Since leaving the EU, we have seen an increase in fish quotas for the UK that will amount to around £146million by 2026 – the increased quota share of 65 tons in 2023 is a reflection of this. UK fisheries have benefitted significantly.'

During the commercial trial, which will run until November, vessels will be allowed only to use low-impact rod and reel fishing gears using artificial lures rather than live bait or chumming (food thrown into the water).

Recreational anglers will also be able to fish for the bluefin tuna under the Catch and Release Tagging programme (CHART), available through 24 charter vessels from ports across the South West and southern England.

David Righton, from CHART, said: 'The programme will further develop our understanding of the occurrence and demographics of Atlantic bluefin tuna in English waters.'

In 2021, the International Union for Conservation of Nature watchdog changed its entry for Eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna from 'endangered' to 'least concern'.