Wales and Northern Ireland Bluefin tagging programmes.
CHART Cymru 2023
We are pleased to be able to confirm that CHART Cymru 2023 has been given the formal go ahead.
Lesley Griffiths AS / MS, Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd has approved CHART Cymru and Thunnus UK Atlantic bluefin tuna research programmes in Wales commencing 01 August 2023. Welsh Government officials will give notice of a contract to manage the operational delivery of CHART Cymru 2023 in due course.
We have worked closely with Angling Cymru on this programme and Rob Cole, press officer for Angling Cymru Sea Angling, (formerly the WFSA) sits on the board of the UKBFTA, representing Welsh Interests amongst other roles he fulfils.
Credit for this outcome should go to him and Julian Lewis-Jones along with the six skippers and crews who got behind the programme last year.
In 2022 various operational and legal delays meant the licenses came through very late, and then of course the weather gods were not kind. As a result the skippers had very few opportunities to fish last season having invested heavily in training workshops, equipment and recon at sea. Consequently, and given the severe funding constraints faced by all administrations in the UK, Welsh fisheries have taken the decision to operate CHART Cymru 2023 with only those who were approved in 2022.
Once they have confirmed to us their intention to participate this year we will post their details here.
In contrast to England, who chose to have CEFAS operate the English CHART programmes in 2021 and 2022, in Wales the Government put that role out to tender to a range of Universities. Swansea University’s highly experienced marine science team won that tender last year. As per the comments above, Welsh Government will be taking a similar approach this year.
Regarding the reference to ‘ThunnusUK’ in Wales.
In 2019 a PSAT based tagging programme was agreed for Wales as an extension of the English work. For a variety of reasons only a small number of those tags have been deployed and a good number remain to be deployed. Welsh Government is keen to complete this work alongside the floy tagging work to provide a fuller insight into the seasonal bluefin tuna presence in Welsh waters. This work is voluntary and skippers paid to undertake it in parallel to the CHART floy tagging programme.
We will provide more details on this programme as soon as we have them, but it is great news that Wales will get a full season of legal bluefin tuna catch, tag and release fishing this year.
We are awaiting formal confirmation from DAERA that NI CHART will go ahead this year, but recent signs are very promising. Five Skippers who were authorised last year, (and who like Wales saw a late start and bad weather) are in dialogue with DAERA and AFBI and planning for 2023 is under way. As soon as we get formal confirmation of the programme we will provide more colour.
It is disappointing that English officials have yet to sign off of CHART 2023 but as per our previous post we hope for the best in coming weeks.
Whenever we update on developments re CHART across the UK Home Nations we pretty much always receive questions as to what is happening in Scotland.
Unfortunately the Scottish Government has chosen not to engage with those who instigated and co-designed the other three programmes, or join the various forums hosted by DEFRA regarding Recreational Bluefin discussions. This is a real shame as we know from working with some great people in the Western Isles that there is potential for a bluefin recreational fishery in those waters. Our door remains open to stakeholders and/or officials who wish to try and replicate the efforts going on in the three other home nations.