An Isle of Harris fishing skipper and tourism operator who caught a 515lb Bluefin tuna in the Outer Hebrides waters back in 2013 recently starred on the Outdoor Channel’s Trev Gowdy’s Monsterfish programme – a channel is watched by 39 million viewers.
Large Bluefin tuna have become more noticeable over recent years, chasing shoals of mackerel off the coast of the Outer Hebrides. It is thought that they are gradually moving north as herring and mackerel stocks recover and the water temperature rises.
With support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise [HIE], Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, and European Fisheries Fund [EFF] Axis 4 funding, Angus has carried out a study with Marine Scotland to tag tuna with satellites and track where they come from and where they go to.
Francis Neat, researcher from Marine Scotland, identifies the specific benefit to Marine Scotland, saying: ‘Marine Scotland needed to learn more about blue fin tuna in Scottish waters – how many there might be, how long they reside here, where they come from, and where they spawn.
‘By working with Angus we were able to satellite-tag three of these giant fish last year. The information we received suggests that these tuna swam thousands of miles and dived to depths in excess of 1000 metres.
‘This study is aligned with the tagging programme of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna and is an important first step toward understanding blue fin tuna behaviour in Scottish waters and assessing in the longer term if a recreational catch-and-release sport fishery could be sustainable.’
This is a matter where the expertise of the respected Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network [SSACN] could be invaluable – in their long experience of establishing models of catch, tag, record and release. The prospect of adding blue fin tuna to the spectrum of responsible sea angling sport in Scottish waters would be attractive.
Angus said: “We are delighted to be working with Marine Scotland and to receive funding from organisations such as HIE, CNES and EFF. As part of the study, we are also collaborating with UHI Lews Castle College in Stornoway to carry out water temperature sampling. This will provide a clearer idea of time and water temperature change and how it corresponds with the arrival of the tuna.”
Extracted from the Forargyll site.