Landing bluefin tuna to be banned
LANDING endangered bluefin tuna is likely to be banned completely within the next two weeks after Environment Minister John Young announced plans to outlaw the practice.
However, due to limitations in the fisheries law, recreational fishermen will still be allowed to target the species on a ‘catch and release’ basis with any outright ban potentially taking many months to introduce.
Fisheries officers have already urged Islanders against the activity, as it can take around an hour to reel a fish in – resulting in them overheating and dying.
Now, according to a States document, the Environment Department is concerned that following publicity last week, more people may try and target the fish.
Earlier this week, a 102 kg bluefin tuna was landed at the Harbour. Reports of similar landings on the adjacent French coast over the same weekend have also now come to light.
And, at the beginning of this month, two French trawlers caught 44 of the species unintentionally near the Minquiers and landed them in Granville.
According to a law drafting request from Environment Department officers to their minister, numbers of bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic are thought to have declined by 50 per cent since the 1960s and fishing is still at an unsustainable level today.
It added: ‘In the last three to five years bluefin tuna have been present within the Jersey territorial sea and this summer have been caught as a by-catch by French trawlers operating in the area.
‘The resultant publicity has generated interest in recreational fishing for this species with one being caught and landed to St Helier by a recreational fishing boat on 9 September 2018.
‘On the same weekend reports were received of landings on the adjacent French coast. The resulting publicity of the landings is likely to encourage others to try for this prized fish.’
The request also states that recreational fishermen in the UK are completely banned from targeting bluefin tuna, even on a ‘catch and release’ basis.
A spokesman for Fisheries and Marine Resources, explained why an outright ban was not being put in place immediately.
‘The reason we are going down this route now is that we can get a ban on landing the fish in place very quickly,’ he said.
‘If we were to try and list it as a prohibited species, it could take a very long time and would mean we would have to draft new legislation, have the lawyers look at it, review it and have it go through the States. We are doing something similar with crawfish at the moment and we started doing that at the beginning of this year.
‘We are doing all that we can now and will be looking at other options further down the line.’