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Commercial Fishing Marine Science

RETURN OF ATLANTIC BLUEFIN TUNA TO UK AND IRISH WATERS

The return of Atlantic bluefin tuna to UK and Irish waters has been highlighted in a recent report

In an article for British Wildlife magazine, authors Tom Horton, Lucy Hawkes and Matthew Witt of the University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Science reveal that bluefin tuna are now becoming increasingly encountered by British and Irish fishermen.

In 2015 there were more records than ever before from around the whole Irish coast, and from 2015 to 2017, the return of Atlantic bluefin tuna to waters of south-west England in appreciable numbers for the first time in many decades.

Bluefin tuna have been documented for centuries around the British Isles, although numbers have fluctuated for a whole variety of reasons, including climate change, population dynamics, food availability and fishing pressure.

In the 20th century numbers appear to have plummeted, but now there are increasing signs of their return. The authors, state: “For the time being, Atlantic bluefin tuna are more apparent off coastal waters of the British Isles than they have been in many years, but we have limited knowledge of where they come from and what mechanism has brought them.”

They add: “A cautious approach towards managing the commercial fishery and a better understanding of their ecology in the high-latitude North Atlantic is clearly much needed. The data collected from our research efforts will form the basis of our starting to understand why we may be seeing more Atlantic bluefin tuna in our waters, and will ultimately aid in the future management and conservation of these remarkable creatures.”

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