The Outer Hebrides Regional Inshore Fisheries Group has been actively involved in the development of a recreational rod and line fishery for ABFT, resulting in a limited catch and release tagging project in 2014. Socio-Economic will be concluded before the end of March 2021.
Local tour operators travelling to St Kilda have reported observing increasing large shoals of ABFT in waters around the Outer Hebrides from late summer until the end of November.
The Outer Hebrides Regional Inshore Fisheries Group has been actively involved in the development of a recreational rod and line fishery for ABFT, resulting in a limited catch and release tagging project in 2014.
That pilot study in which 3 ABFT were tagged off Harris and showed the fish to move west and south, travelling as far as the Azores. However, additional research is necessary to establish spawning grounds and how many there are and how long they reside in Scottish waters.
Western Isles Blue Fin Tuna Tagging 2014:
The Outer Hebrides FLAG awarded additional funding to Harris Development Ltd in 2020 to develop a more enhanced catch and release tagging programme which was extended to allow a derogation for 3 vessels to charge anglers for a catch and release recreational fishery. The project was severely restricted due to Covid-19 restrictions resulting in only 1 fish being caught and released. Funding for the project has been extended to cover the 2021 season, when they hope that Covid-19 restrictions will be relaxed to allow the project to conclude.
In addition, Marine Scotland has awarded funding to Harris Development Ltd to coordinate a Socio-Economic Study of a Blue Fin Tuna Fishery for the Western Isles and a Steering Group will meet shortly to develop that study, which will conclude before the end of March 2021.
The OHRIFG hope that an allocation of ABFT will be available to the UK Government and that a selective rod and line sustainable fishery can be developed in waters around the Outer Hebrides.
The Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups (RIFGs) aim to improve the management of inshore fisheries in the 0-6 nautical mile zone of Scottish waters, and to give commercial inshore fishermen a strong voice in wider marine management developments.